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the Class of 1901 

founded by 






A Book for Young Americans 



COPYRIGHT, 1896, 1897, BY 

E. P. 26 





II. His HOMES 12 


IV. GOING TO SEA .... 18 








XIII. INDEPENDENCE . . . .... . 54 











































II. WORK AND SORROW . . . . . . . 184 




VI. THE BOATMAN . . 201 



IX. IN THE LEGISLATURE . . . . . . .210 









When George Washington was a boy there 
was no United States. The land was here, just 
as it is now, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean 
to the Pacific ; but nearly all of it was wild and 

Between the Atlantic Ocean and the Allegheny 
Mountains there were thirteen colonies, or great 
settlements. The most of the people who lived 
in these colonies were English people, or the chil- 
dren of English people ; and so the King of Eng- 
land made their laws and appointed their 

The newest of the colonies was Georgia, which 
was settled the year after George Washington 
was born. 

The oldest colony was Virginia, which had 
been settled one hundred and twenty-five years. 



It was also the richest colony, and more people 
were living in it than in any other. 

There were only two or three towns in Virginia 
at that time, and they were quite small. 

Most of the people lived on farms or on big 
plantations, where they raised whatever they 
needed to eat. They also raised tobacco, which 
they sent to England to be sold. 

The farms, or plantations, were often far apart, 
with stretches of thick woods between them. 
Nearly every one was close to a river, or some 
other large body of water ; for there are many 
rivers in Virginia. 

There were no roads, such as we have now- 
adays, but only paths through the woods. When 
people wanted to travel from place to place, they 
had to go on foot, or on horseback, or in small 

A few of the rich men who lived on the big 
plantations had coaches ; and now and then they 
would drive out in grand style behind four or six 
horses, with a fine array of servants and outriders 
following them. But they could not drive far 
where there were no roads, and we can hardly 


understand how they could get any pleasure 
out of it. 

Nearly all the work on the plantations was 
done by slaves. Ships had been bringing negroes 
from Africa for more than a hundred years, and 
now nearly half the people in Virginia were blacks. 

Very often, also, poor white men from Eng- 
land were sold as slaves for a few years in order 
to pay for their passage across the ocean. When 
their freedom was given to them they continued 
to work at whatever they could find to do ; or 
they cleared small farms in the woods for them- 
selves, or went farther to the west and became 
woodsmen and hunters. 

There was but very little money in Virginia at 
that time, and, indeed, there was not much use 
for it. For what could be done with money 
where there were no shops worth speaking of, 
and no stores, and nothing to buy ? 

The common people raised flax and wool, and 
wove their own cloth ; and they made their own 
tools and furniture. The rich people did the 
same ; but for their better or finer goods they 
sent to England. 


For you must know that in all this country 
there were no great mills for spinning and weav- 
ing as there are now ; there were no factories 
of any kind ; there were no foundries where iron 
could be melted and shaped into all kinds of 
useful and beautiful things. 

When George Washington was a boy the world 
was not much like it is now. 


George Washington's father owned a large plan- 
tation on the western shore of the Potomac River. 
George's great-grandfather, John Washington, 
had settled upon it nearly eighty years before, 
and there the family had dwelt ever since. 

This plantation was in Westmoreland county, 
not quite forty miles above the place where the 
Potomac flows into Chesapeake Bay. By looking 
at your map of Virginia, you will see that the 
river is very broad there. 

On one side of the plantation, and flowing 
through it, there was a creek, called Bridge's 
Creek ; and for this reason the place was known 
as the Bridge's Creek Plantation. 


It was here, on the 22d of February, 1732, that 
George Washington was born. 

Although his father was a rich man, the house 
in which he lived was neither very large nor 
very fine at least it would not be thought 
so now. 

It was a square, wooden building, with four 
rooms on the ground floor and an attic above. 

The eaves were low, and the roof was long and 
sloping. At each end of the house there was a 
huge chimney ; and inside were big fireplaces, 
one foj the kitchen and one for the "great room" 
where visitors were received. 

But George did not live long in this house. 
When he was about three years old his father re- 
moved to another plantation which he owned, 
near Hunting Creek, several miles farther up the 
river. This new plantation was at first known as 
the Washington Plantation, but it is now called 
Mount Vernon. 

Four years after this the house of the Washing- 
tons was burned down. But Mr. Washington 
had still other lands on the Rappahannock River. 
He had also an interest in some iron mines that 


were being opened there. And so to this place 
the family was now taken. 

The house by the Rappahannock was very 
much like the one at Bridge's Creek. It stood on 
high ground, overlooking the river and some low 
meadows ; and on the other side of the river was 
the village of Fredericksburg, which at that time 
was a very small village, indeed. 

George was now about seven years old. 


There were no good schools in Virginia at that 
time. In fact, the people did not care much about 

There were few educated men besides the par- 
sons, and even some of the parsons were very 

It was the custom of some of the richest fam- 
ilies to send their eldest sons to England to the 
great schools there. But it is doubtful if these 
young men learned much about books. 

They spent a winter or two in the gay society 
of London, and were taught the manners of gen- 
tlemen and that was about all. 


George Washington's father, when a young 
man, had spent some time at Appleby School in 
England, and George's half-brothers, Lawrence 
and Augustine, who were several years older than 
he, had been sent to the same school. 

But book-learning was not thought to be of 
much use. To know how to manage the busi- 
ness of a plantation, to be polite to one's equals, 
to be a leader in the affairs of the colony this 
was thought to be the best education. 

And so, for most of the young men, it was 
enough if they could read and write a little and 
keep a few simple accounts. As for the girls, the 
parson might give them a few lessons now and 
then ; and if they learned good manners and 
could write letters to their friends, what more 
could they need ? 

George Washington's first teacher was a poor 
sexton, whose name was Mr. Hobby. There is a 
story that he had been too poor to pay his passage 
from England, and that he had, therefore, been 
sold to Mr. Washington as a slave for a short 
time ; but how true this is, I cannot say. 

From Mr. Hobby, George learned to spell 


easy words, and perhaps to write a little ; but, 
although he afterward became a very careful 
and good penman, he was a poor speller as long 
as he lived. 

When George was about eleven years old his 
father died. We do not know what his father's 
intentions had been regarding him. But pos- 
sibly, if he had lived, he would have given 
George the best education that his means would 

But now everything was changed. The plan- 
tation at Hunting Creek, and, indeed, almost all 
the rest of Mr. Washington's great estate, became 
the property of the eldest son, Lawrence. 

George was sent to Bridge's Creek to live for a 
while with his brother Augustine, who now 
owned the old home plantation there. The 
mother and the younger children remained on 
the Rappahannock farm. 

While at Bridge's Creek, George was sent to 
school to a Mr. Williams, who had lately come 
from England. 

There are still to be seen some exercises which 
the lad wrote at that time. There is also a little 


book, called The Young Mans Companion, from 
which he copied, with great care, a set of rules 
for good behavior and right living. 

Not many boys twelve years old would care 
for such a book nowadays. But you must know 
that in those days there were no books for chil- 
dren, and, indeed, very few for older people. 

The maxims and wise sayings which George 
copied were, no doubt, very interesting to him 
so interesting that many of them were never 

There are many other things also in this Young 
Mans Companion, and we have reason to be- 
lieve that George studied them all. 

There are short chapters on arithmetic and 
surveying, rules for the measuring of land and 
lumber, and a set of forms for notes, deeds, and 
other legal documents. A knowledge of these 
things was, doubtless, of greater importance to 
him than the reading of many books would have 

Just what else George may have studied in 
Mr. Williams's school I cannot say. But all this 
time he was growing to be a stout, manly boy, 


tall and strong, and well-behaved. And both 
his brothers and himself were beginning to think 
of what he should do when he should become a 


Once every summer a ship came up the river 
to the plantation, and was moored near the shore. 

It had come across the sea from far-away Eng- 
land, and it brought many things for those who 
were rich enough to pay for them. 

It brought bonnets and pretty dresses for 
George's mother and sisters ; it brought perhaps 
a hat and a tailor-made suit for himself; it 
brought tools and furniture, and once a yellow 
coach that had been made in London, for his 

When all these things had been taken ashore, 
the ship would hoist her sails and go on, farther 
up the river, to leave goods at other plantations. 

In a few weeks it would come back and be 
moored again at the same place. 

Then there was a busy time on shore. The 
tobacco that had been raised during the last year 


must be carried on shipboard to be taken to the 
great tobacco markets in England. 

The slaves on the plantation were running back 
and forth, rolling barrels and carrying bales of 
tobacco down to the landing. 

Letters were written to friends in England,, 
and orders were made out for the goods that 
were to be brought back next year. 

But in a day or two, all this stir was over. The 
sails were again spread, and the ship glided away 
on its long voyage across the sea. 

George had seen this ship coming and going 
every year since he could remember. He must 
have thought how pleasant it would be to sail 
away to foreign lands and see the many wonder- 
ful things that are there. 

And then, like many another active boy, he 
began to grow tired of the quiet life on the farm, 
and wish that he might be a sailor. 

He was now about fourteen years old. Since 
the death of his father, his mother had found it 
hard work, with her five children, to manage her 
farm on the Rappahannock and make everything 
come out even at the end of each year. Was it 


not time that George should be earning some- 
thing for himself ? But what should he do ? 

He wanted to go to sea. His brother Law- 
rence, and even his mother, thought that this 
might be the best thing. 

A bright boy like George would not long be a 
common sailor. He would soon make his way 
to a high place in the king's navy. So, at least, 
his friends believed. 

And so the matter was at last settled. A sea- 
captain who was known to the family, agreed to 
take George with him. He was to sail in a short 

The day came. His mother, his brothers, his 
sisters, were all there to bid him good-bye. But 
in the meanwhile a letter had come to his mother, 
from his uncle who lived in England. 

"If you care for the boy's future," said the 
letter, "do not let him go to sea. Places in the 
king's navy are not easy to obtain. If he begins 
as a sailor, he will never be aught else." 

The letter convinced George's mother it half 
convinced his brothers that this going to sea 
would be a sad mistake. But George, like other 


boys of his age, was headstrong. He would not 
listen to reason. A sailor he would be. 

The ship was in the river waiting for him. A 
boat had come to the landing to take him on 

The little chest which held his clothing had 
been carried down to the bank. George was in 
high glee at the thought of going. 

" Good-bye, mother," he said. 

He stood on the doorstep and looked back into 
the house. He saw the kind faces of those whom 
he loved. He began to feel very sad at the 
thought of leaving them. 

"Good-bye, George !" 

He saw the tears welling up in his mother's 
eyes. He saw them rolling down her cheeks. 
He knew now that she did not want him to go. 
He could not bear to see her grief. 

"Mother, I have changed my mind," he. said. 
"I will not be a sailor. I will not leave you." 

Then he turned to the black boy who was 
waiting by the door, and said, "Run down to the 
landing and tell them not to put the chest on 
board. Tell them that I have thought differently 


of the matter and that I am going to stay at 

If George had not changed his mind, but had 
really gone to sea, how very different the history 
of this country would have been ! 

He now went to his studies with a better will 
than before ; and although he read but few books 
he learned much that was useful to him in life. 
He studied surveying with especial care, and 
made himself as thorough in that branch of 
knowledge as it was possible to do with so few 


Lawrence Washington was about fourteen 
years older than his brother George. 

As I have already said, he had been to Eng- 
land and had spent some time at Appleby School. 
He had served in the king's army for a little 
while, and had been with Admiral Vernon's 
squadron in the West Indies. 

He had formed so great a liking for the ad- 
miral that when he came home he changed the 
name of his plantation at Hunting Creek, and 


called it Mount Vernon a name by which it is 
still known. 

Not far from Mount Vernon there was another 
fine plantation called Belvoir, that was owned 
by William Fairfax, an English gentleman of 
much wealth and influence. Now this Mr. Fairfax 
had a young daughter, as wise as she was beauti- 
ful ; and so, what should Lawrence Washington 
do but ask her to be his wife ? He built a large 
house at Mount Vernon with a great porch front- 
ing on the Potomac ; and when Miss Fairfax be- 
came Mrs. Washington and went into this home as 
its mistress, people said that there was not a hand- 
somer or happier young couple in all Virginia. 

After. young George Washington had changed 
his mind about going to sea, he went up to 
Mount Vernon to live with his elder brother. 
For Lawrence had great love for the boy, and 
treated him as his father would have done. 

At Mount Vernon George kept on with his' 
studies in surveying. He had a compass and 
surveyor's chain, and hardly a day passed that 
he was not out on the plantation, running lines 
and measuring his brother's fields. 


Sometimes when he was busy at this kind of 
work, a tall, white-haired gentleman would come 
over from Belvoir to see what he was doing and to 
talk with him. This gentleman was Sir Thomas 
Fairfax, a cousin of the owner of Belvoir. He 
was sixty years old, and had lately come from 
England to look after his lands in Virginia ; for 
he was the owner of many thousands of acres 
among the mountains and in the wild woods. 

Sir Thomas was a courtly old gentleman, and he 
had seen much of the world. He was a fine scholar ; 
he had been a soldier, and then a man of letters ; 
and he belonged to a rich and noble family. 

It was not long until he and George were the 
best of friends. Often they would spend the 
morning together, talking or surveying ; and in 
the afternoon they would ride out with servants 
and hounds, hunting foxes and making fine sport 
of it among the woods and hills. 

And when Sir Thomas Fairfax saw how manly 
and brave his young friend was, and how very 
exact and careful in all that he did, he said : 
" Here is a boy who gives promise of great things. 
I can trust him." 


Before the winter was over he had made a 
bargain with George to survey his lands that lay 
beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

I have already told you that at this time nearly 
all the country west of the mountains was a wild 
and unknown region. In fact, all the western 
part of Virginia was an unbroken wilderness, 
with only here and there a hunter's camp or the 
solitary hut of some daring woodsman. 

But Sir Thomas hoped that by having the land 
surveyed, and some part of it laid out into farms, 
people might be persuaded to go there and 
settle. And who in all the colony could do 
this work better than his young friend George 
Washington ? 

It was a bright day in March, 1748, when 
George started out on his first trip across the 
mountains. His only company was a young son 
of William Fairfax of Belvoir. 

The two friends were mounted on good horses ; 
and both had guns, for there was fine hunting in 
the woods. It was nearly a hundred miles to 
the mountain-gap through which they passed into 
the country beyond. As there were no roads, 


but only paths through the forest, they could not 
travel very fast. 

After several days they reached the beautiful 
valley of the Shenandoah. They now began 
their surveying. They went up the river for 
some distance ; then they crossed and went down 
on the other side. At last they reached the Poto- ' 
mac River, near where Harpers Ferry now stands. 

At night they slept sometimes by a camp fire 
in the woods, and sometimes in the rude hut of 
a settler or a hunter. They were often wet and 
cold. They cooked their meat by broiling it on 
sticks above the coals. They ate without dishes, 
and drank water from the running streams. 

One day they met a party of Indians, the first 
red men they had seen. There were thirty of 
them, with their bodies painted in true savage 
style ; for they were just going home from a war 
with some other tribe. 

The Indians were very friendly to the young 
surveyors. It was evening, and they built a huge 
fire under the trees. Then they danced their 
war dance around it, and sang and yelled and 
made hideous sport until far in the night. 


To George and his friend it was a strange sight ; 
but they were brave young men, and not likely 
to be afraid even though the danger had been 

They had many other adventures in the woods 
of which I cannot tell you in this little book - 
shooting wild game, swimming rivers, climbing 
mountains. But about the middle of April they 
returned in safety to Mount Vernon. 

It would seem that the object of this first trip 
was to get a general knowledge of the extent of 
Sir Thomas Fairfax's great woodland estate to 
learn where the richest bottom lands lay, and 
where were the best hunting grounds. 

The young men had not done much if any real 
surveying ; they had been exploring. 

George Washington had written an account of 
everything in a little notebook which he carried 
with him. 

Sir Thomas was so highly pleased with the re- 
port which the young men brought back that he 
made up his mind to move across the Blue Ridge 
and spend the rest of his life on his own lands. 

And so, that very summer, he built in the 


midst of the great woods a hunting lodge which 
he called Greenway Court. It was a large, square 
house, with broad gables and a long roof sloping 
almost to the ground. 

When he moved into this lodge he expected 
soon to build a splendid mansion and make a 
grand home there, like the homes he had known 
in England. But time passed, and as the lodge 
was roomy and comfortable, he still lived in it 
and put off beginning another house. 

Washington was now seventeen years old. 
Through the influence of Sir Thomas Fairfax he 
was appointed public surveyor ; and nothing would 
do but that he must spend the most of his time 
at Greenway Court and keep on with the work 
that he had begun. 

For the greater part of three years he worked 
in the woods and among the mountains, survey- 
ing Sir Thomas's lands. And Sir Thomas paid 
him well a doubloon ($8.24) for each day, and 
more than that if the work was very hard. 

But there were times when the young surveyor 
did not go out to work, but stayed at Greenway 
Court with his good friend, Sir Thomas. The 


old gentleman had something of a library, and 
on days when they could neither work nor hunt, 
George spent the time in reading. He read the 
Spectator and a history of England, and possibly 
some other works. 

And so it came about that the three years which 
young Washington spent in surveying were of 
much profit to him. 

The work in the open air gave him health and 
strength. He gained courage and self-reliance. 
He became acquainted with the ways of the back- 
woodsmen and of the savage Indians. And from 
Sir Thomas Fairfax he learned a great deal about 
the history, the laws, and the military affairs of 
old England. 

And in whatever he undertook to do or to learn, 
he was careful and systematic and thorough. 
He did nothing by guess ; he never left anything 
half done. And therein, let me say to you, lie 
the secrets of success in any calling. 


You have already learned how the English 
people had control of all that part of our country 


which borders upon the Atlantic Ocean. You 
have learned, also, that they had made thirteen 
great settlements along the coast, while all the 
vast region west of the mountains remained a 
wild and unknown land. 

Now, because Englishmen had been the first 
white men to see the line of shore that stretches 
from Maine to Georgia, they set up a claim to all 
the land west of that line. 

They had no idea how far the land extended. 
They knew almost nothing about its great rivers, 
its vast forests, its lofty mountains, its rich 
prairies. They cared nothing for the claims of 
the Indians whose homes were there. 

"All the land from ocean to ocean," they said, 
''belongs to the King of England." 

But there were other people who also had 
something to say about this matter. 

The French had explored the Mississippi River. 
They had sailed on the Great Lakes. Their 
hunters and trappers were roaming through the 
western forests. They had made treaties with 
the Indians ; and they had built trading posts, 
here and there, along the watercourses. 


They said, 'The English people may keep 
their strip of land between the mountains and 
the sea. But these great river valleys and this 
country around the Lakes are ours, because we 
have been the first to explore and make use of 

Now, about the time that George Washington 
was thinking of becoming a sailor, some of the 
rich planters in Virginia began to hear wonder- 
ful stories about a fertile region west of the Al- 
leghenies, watered by a noble river, and rich in 
game and fur-bearing animals. 

This region was called the Ohio Country, from 
the name of the river ; and those who took pains 
to learn the most about it were satisfied that it 
would, at some time, be of very great importance 
to the people who should control it. 

And so these Virginian planters and certain 
Englishmen formed a company called the Ohio 
Company, the object of which was to explore 
the country, and make money by establishing 
trading posts and settlements there. And of 
this company, Lawrence Washington was one of 
the chief managers. 


Lawrence Washington and his brother George 
had often talked about this enterprise. 

"We shall have trouble with the French," said 
Lawrence. "They have already sent men into 
the Ohio Country ; and they are trying in every 
way to prove that the land belongs to them." 

"It looks as if we should have to drive them 
out by force," said George. 

"Yes, and there will probably be some hard 
fighting," said Lawrence; "and you, as a young 
man, must get yourself ready to have a hand 
in it." 

And Lawrence followed this up by persuading 
the governor of the colony to appoint George as 
one of the adjutants-general of Virginia. 

George was only nineteen years old, but he 
was now Major Washington, and one of the 
most promising soldiers in America. 


Although George Washington spent so much 
of his time at Greenway Court, he still called 
Mount Vernon his home. 

Going down home in the autumn, just before 


he was twenty years old, he found matters in a 
sad state, and greatly changed. 

His brother Lawrence was very ill -- indeed, he 

had been ill a long time. He had tried a trip to 

' England ; he had spent a summer at the warm 

springs ; but all to no purpose. He was losing 

strength every day. 

The sick man dreaded the coming of cold 
weather. If he could only go to the warm West 
Indies before winter set in, perhaps that would 
prolong his life. Would George go with him ? 

No loving brother could refuse a request like 

The captain of a ship in the West India trade 
agreed to take them ; and so, while it was still 
pleasant September, the two Washingtons em- 
barked for Barbadoes, which, then as now, be- 
longed to the English. 

It was the first time that George had ever been 
outside of his native land, and it proved to be 
also the last. He took careful notice of every- 
thing that he saw ; and, in the little notebook 
which he seems to have always had with him, he 
wrote a brief account of the trip. 


He had not been three weeks at Barbadoes 
before he was taken down with the smallpox ; 
and for a month he was very sick. And so his 
winter in the West Indies could not have been 
very pleasant. 

In February the two brothers returned home 
to Mount Vernon. Lawrence's health had not 
been bettered by the journey. He was now very 
feeble ; but he lingered on until July, when he 

By his will Lawrence Washington left his fine 
estate of Mount Vernon, and all the rest of his 
wealth, to his little daughter. But George was 
to be the daughter's guardian ; and in case of 
her death, all her vast property was to be his 

And so, before he was quite twenty-one years 
old, George Washington was settled at Mount Ver- 
non as the manager of one of the richest estates 
in Virginia. The death of his little niece not 
long afterward made him the owner of this es- 
tate, and, of course, a very wealthy man. 

But within a brief time, events occurred which 
called him away from his peaceful employments. 



Early the very next year news was brought to 
Virginia that the French were building forts 
along the Ohio, and making friends with the In- 
dians there. This of course meant that they in- 
tended to keep the English out of that country. 

The governor of Virginia thought that the time 
had come to speak out about this matter. He 
would send a messenger with a letter to these 
Frenchmen, telling them that all the land be- 
longed to the English, and that no trespassing 
would be allowed. 

The first messenger that he sent became 
alarmed before he was within a hundred miles of 
a Frenchman, and went back to say that every- 
thing was as good as lost. 

It was very plain that a man with some cour- 
age must be chosen for such an undertaking. 

"I will send Major George Washington," said 
the governor. "He is very young, but he is the 
bravest man in the colony." 

Now, promptness was one of those traits of 
character which made George Washington the 


great man which he afterward became. And 
so, on the very day that he received his appoint- 
ment he set out for the Ohio Country. 

He took with him three white hunters, two In- 
dians, and a famous woodsman, whose name was 
Christopher Gist. A small tent or two, and such 
few things as they would need on the journey, 
were strapped on the backs of horses. 

They pushed through the woods in a north- 
westwardly direction, and at last reached a place 
called Venango, not very far from where Pitts- 
burgh now stands. This was the first outpost of 
the French ; and there Washington met some of 
the French officers, and heard them talk about 
what they proposed to do. 

Then, after a long ride to the north, they came 
to another fort. The French commandant was 
here, and he welcomed Washington with a great 
show of kindness. 

Washington gave him the letter which he had 
brought from the governor of Virginia. 

The commandant read it, and two days after- 
ward gave him an answer. 

He said that he would forward the letter to the 


French governor ; but as for the Ohio Country, 
he had been ordered to hold it, and he meant to 
do so. 

Of course Washington could do nothing fur- 
ther. But it was plain to him that the news ought 
to be carried back to Virginia without delay. 

It was now midwinter. As no horse could 
travel through the trackless woods at this time 
of year, he must make his way on foot. 

So, with only the woodsman, Gist, he shouldered 
his rifle and knapsack, and bravely started home. 

It was a terrible journey. The ground was 
covered with snow ; the rivers were frozen ; there 
was not even a path through the forest. If Gist 
had not been so fine a woodsman they would 
hardly have seen Virginia again. 

Once an Indian shot at Washington from be- 
hind a tree. Once the brave young man fell into 
a river, among floating ice, and would have been 
drowned but for Gist. 

At last they reached the house of a trader on 
the Monongahela River. There they were kindly 
welcomed, and urged to stay until the weather 
should grow milder. 


But Washington would not delay. 

Sixteen days after that, he was back in Vir- 
ginia, telling the governor all about his adven- 
tures, and giving his opinion about the best way 
to deal with the French. 


It was now very plain that if the English were 
going to hold the Ohio Country and the vast 
western region which they claimed as their own, 
they must fight for it. 

The people of Virginia were not very anxious 
to go to war. But their governor was not willing 
to be beaten by the French. 

He made George Washington a lieutenant- 
colonel of Virginia troops and set about raising 
an army to send into the Ohio Country. 

Early in the spring Colonel Washington, with 
a hundred and fifty men, was marching across the 
country toward the head waters of the Ohio. It 
was a small army to advance against the thousands 
of French and Indians who now held that region. 

But other officers, with stronger forces, were 
expected to follow close behind. 


Late in May the little army reached the valley 
of the Monongahela, and began to build a fort 
at a place called Great Meadows. 

By this time the French and Indians were 
aroused, and hundreds of them were hurrying 
forward to defend the Ohio Country from the 
English. One of their scouting parties, coming 
up the river, was met by Washington with forty 

The French were not expecting any foe at this 
place. There were but thirty-two of them ; and 
of these only one escaped. Ten were killed, and 
the rest were taken prisoners. 

This was Washington's first battle, and he was 
more proud of it than you might suppose. He 
sent his prisoners to Virginia, and was ready 
now, with his handful of men, to meet all the 
French and Indians that might come against him ! 

And they did come, and in greater numbers 
than he had expected. He made haste to finish, 
if possible, the fort that had been begun. 

But they were upon him before he was ready. 
They had four men to his one. They surrounded 
the fort and shut his little Virginian army in. 


What could Colonel Washington do ? His 
soldiers were already half-starved. There was 
but little food in the fort, and no way to get any 

The French leader asked if he did not think it 
would be a wise thing to surrender. Washington 
hated the very thought of it ; but nothing else 
could be done. 

"If you will march your men straight home 
and give me a pledge that they and all Virginians 
will stay out of the Ohio Country for the next 
twelve months, you may go," said the Frenchman. 

It was done. 

Washington, full of disappointment, went back 
to Mount Vernon. But he felt more like fighting 
than ever before. 

He was now twenty-two years old. 


In the meanwhile the King of England had 
heard how the French were building forts along 
the Ohio and how they were sending their traders 
to the Great Lakes and to the valley of the 


"If we allow them to go on in this way, they 
will soon take all that vast western country away 
from us," he said. 

And so, the very next winter, he sent over an 
army under General Edward Braddock to drive 
the French out of that part of America and 
at the same time teach their Indian friends a 

It was in February, 1755, when General Brad- 
dock and his troops went into camp at Alexan- 
dria in Virginia. As Alexandria was only a few 
miles from Mount Vernon, Washington rode over 
to see the fine array and become acquainted with 
the officers. 

When General Braddock heard that this was 
the young man who had ventured so boldly into 
the Ohio Country, he offered him a place on his 
staff. This was very pleasing to Washington, for 
there was nothing more attractive to him than 

It was several weeks before the army was ready 
to start : and then it moved so slowly that it did 
not reach the Monongahela until July. 

The soldiers in their fine uniforms made a 


splendid appearance as they marched in regular 
order across the country. 

Benjamin Franklin, one of the wisest men in 
America, had told General Braddock that his 
greatest danger would be from unseen foes hidden 
among the underbrush and trees. 

'They may be dangerous to your backwoods- 
men," said Braddock; "but to the trained sol- 
diers of the king they can give no trouble at all." 

But scarcely had the army crossed the Mo- 
nongahela when it was fired upon by unseen 
enemies. The woods rang with the cries of 
savage men. 

The soldiers knew not how to return the fire. 
They were shot down in their tracks like animals 
in a pen. 

"Let the men take to the shelter of the trees !" 
was Washington's advice. 

But Braddock would not listen to it. They 
must keep in order and fight as they had been 
trained to fight. 

Washington rode hither and thither trying his 
best to save the day. Two horses were shot under 
him ; four bullets passed through his coat ; and 


still he was unhurt. The Indians thought that he 
bore a charmed life, for none of them could hit him. 

It was a dreadful affair more like a slaughter 
than a battle. Seven hundred of Braddock's fine 
soldiers, and more than half of his officers, were 
killed or wounded. And all this havoc was 
made by two hundred Frenchmen and about six 
hundred Indians hidden among the trees. 

At last Braddock gave the order to retreat. It 
soon became a wild flight rather than a retreat ; 
and yet, had it not been for Washington, it would 
have been much worse. 

The General himself had been fatally wounded. 
There was no one but Washington who could 
restore courage to the frightened men, and lead 
them safely from the place of defeat. 

Four days after the battle General Braddock 
died, and the remnant of the army, being now 
led by a Colonel Dunbar, hurried back to the 
eastern settlements. 

Of all the men who took part in that unfortu- 
nate expedition against the French, there was 
only one who gained any renown therefrom, 
and that one was Colonel George Washington. 


He went back to Mount Vernon, wishing never 
to be sent to the Ohio Country again. 

The people of Virginia were so fearful lest 
the French and Indians should follow up their 
victory and attack the settlements, that they 
quickly raised a regiment of a thousand men to 
defend their colony. . And so highly did they 
esteem Colonel Washington that they made him 
commander of all the forces of the colony, to do 
with them as he might deem best. 

The war with the French for the possession of 
the Ohio Country and the valley of the Missis- 
sippi, had now fairly begun. It would be more 
than seven years before it came to an end. 

But most of the fighting was done at the north 
- in New York and Canada ; and so Washington 
and his Virginian soldiers did not distinguish 
themselves in any very great enterprise. 

It was for them to keep watch of the western 
frontier of the colony lest the Indians should cross 
the mountains and attack the settlements. 

Once, near the middle of the war, Washington 
led a company into the very country where he 
had once traveled on foot with Christopher Gist. 


The French had built a fort at the place where 
the Ohio River has its beginning, and they had 
named it Fort Duquesne. When they heard 
that Washington was coming they set fire to the 
fort and fled down the river in boats. 

The English built a new fort at the same place, 
and called it Fort Pitt ; and there the city oi 
Pittsburgh has since grown up. 

And now Washington resigned his commis- 
sion as commander of the little Virginian army. 
Perhaps he was tired of the war. Perhaps his 
great plantation of Mount Vernon needed his 
care. We cannot tell. 

But we know that, a few days later, he was 
married to Mrs. Martha Custis, a handsome 
young widow who owned a fine estate not a great 
way from Williamsburg, the capital of the colony. 
This was in January, 1759. 

At about the same time he was elected a mem- 
ber of the House of Burgesses of Virginia ; and 
three months later, he went down to Williams- 
burg to have a hand in making some of the laws 
for the colony. 

He was now twenty-seven years old. Young 


as he was, he was one of the richest men in the 
colony, and he was known throughout the country 
as the bravest of American soldiers. 

The war was still going on at the north. To 
most of the Virginians it seemed to be a thing 
far away. 

At last, in 1763, a treaty of peace was made. 
The French had been beaten, and they were 
obliged to give up everything to the English. 
They lost not only the Ohio Country and all the 
great West, but Canada also. 


And now for several years Washington lived 
the life of a country gentleman. He had enough 
to do, taking care of his plantations, hunting 
foxes with his sport-loving neighbors, and sitting 
for a part of each year in the House of Burgesses 
at Williamsburg. 

He was a tall man -- more than six feet in 
height. He had a commanding presence and a 
noble air, which plainly said : 'This is no 
common man." 

He was shrewd in business. He was the best 

. ' ^ 


horseman and the best walker in Virginia. And 
no man knew more about farming than he. 

And so the years passed pleasantly enough at 
Mount Vernon, and there were few who dreamed 
of the great events and changes that were soon 
to take place. 

King George the Third of England, who was 
the ruler of the thirteen colonies, had done many 
unwise things. 

He had made laws forbidding the colonists 
from trading with other countries than his own. 

He would not let them build factories to weave 
their wool and flax into cloth. 
x He wanted to force them to buy all their goods 
in England, and to send their corn and tobacco 
and cotton there to pay for them. 

And now after the long war with France he 
wanted to make the colonists pay heavy taxes in 
order to meet the expenses of that war. 

They must not drink a cup of tea without first 
paying tax on it ; they must not sign a deed or a 
note without first buying stamped paper on which 
to write it. 

In every colony there was great excitement on 


account of the tea tax and the stamp act, as it 
was called. 

In the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg, a 
young man, whose name was Patrick Henry, made 
a famous speech in which he declared that the king 
had no right to tax them without their consent. 

George Washington heard that speech, and 
gave it his approval. 

Not long afterward, news came that in Boston 
a shipload of tea had been thrown into the sea 
by the colonists. Rather than pay the tax upon 
it, they would drink no tea. 

Then, a little later, still other news came. The 
king had closed the port of Boston, and would 
not allow any ships to come in or go out. 

More than this, he had sent over a body of 
soldiers, and had quartered them in Boston in 
-order to keep the people in subjection. 

The whole country was aroused now. What 
did this mean ? Did the king intend to take 
away from the colonists all the liberties that are 
so dear to men ? 

The colonies must unite and agree upon doing 
something to protect themselves and preserve 


their freedom. In order to do this each colony 
was asked to send delegates to Philadelphia to 
talk over the matter and see what would be the 
best thing to do. 

George Washington was one of the delegates 
from Virginia. 

Before starting he made a great speech in the 
House of Burgesses. "If necessary, I will raise a 
thousand men," he said, "subsist them at my 
own expense, and march them to the relief of 

But the time for marching to Boston had not 
quite come. 

The delegates from the different colonies met 
in Carpenter's Hall, in Philadelphia, on the 5th 
of September, 1774. Their meeting has since 
been known as the First Continental Congress of 

For fifty-one days those wise, thoughtful men 
discussed the great question that had brought 
them together. What could the colonists do to 
escape the oppressive laws that the King of Eng- 
land was trying to force upon them ? 

Many powerful speeches were made, but 


George Washington sat silent. He was a doer 
rather than a talker. 

At last the Congress decided to send an ad- 
dress to the king to remind him of the rights of 
the colonists, and humbly beg that he would not 
enforce his unjust laws. 

And then, when all had been done that could 
be done, Washington went back to his home at 
Mount Vernon, to his family and his friends, his 
big plantations, his fox-hunting, and his pleasant 
life as a country gentleman. 

But he knew as well as any man that more 
serious work was near at hand. 


All that winter the people of the colonies were 
anxious and fearful. Would the king pay any 
heed to their petition ? Or would he force them 
to obey his unjust laws ? 

Then, in the spring, news came from Boston 

that matters were growing worse and worse. 

The soldiers who were quartered in that city were 

daily becoming more insolent and overbearing. 

'These people ought to have their town knocked 


about their ears and destroyed," said one of the 
king's officers. 

On the igth of April a company of the king's 
soldiers started to Concord, a few miles from 
Boston, to seize some powder which had been 
stored there. Some of the colonists met them 
at Lexington, and there was a battle. 

This was the first battle in that long war com- 
monly called the Revolution. 

Washington was now on his way to the North 
again. The Second Continental Congress was to 
meet in Philadelphia in May, and he was again 
a delegate from Virginia. 

In the first days of the Congress no man was 
busier than he. No man seemed to understand 
the situation of things better than he. No man 
was listened to with greater respect ; and yet he 
said but little. 

Every day, he came into the hall wearing the 

blue and buff uniform which belonged to him as 

a Virginia colonel. It was as much as to say : 

'The time for fighting has come, and I am 


The Congress thought it best to send another 


humble petition to the king, asking him not to 
deprive the people of their just rights. 

In the meantime brave men were flocking 
towards Boston to help the people defend them- 
selves from the violence of the king's soldiers. 
The war had begun, and no mistake. 

The men of Congress saw now the necessity of 
providing for this war. They asked, "Who shall 
be the commander-in-chief of our colonial army ?" 

It was hardly worth while to ask such a ques- 
tion ; for there could be but one answer. Who, 
but George Washington ? 

No other person in America knew so much 
about war as he. No other person was so well 
fitted to command. 

On the 1 5th of June, on motion of John Adams 
of Massachusetts, he was appointed to that re- 
sponsible place. On the next day he made a 
modest but noble little speech before Congress. 

He told the members of that body that he 
would serve his country willingly and as well as 
he could -- but not for money. They might pro- 
vide for his necessary expenses, but he would 
never take any pay for his services. 


And so, leaving all his own interests out of 
sight, he undertook at once the great work that 
had been entrusted to him. He undertook it, 
not for profit nor for honor, but because of a feel- 
ing of duty to his fellow-men. For eight weary 
years he forgot himself in the service of his 

Two weeks after his appointment General 
Washington rode into Cambridge, near Boston, 
and took formal command of his army. 

It was but a small force, poorly clothed, poorly 
armed ; but every man had the love of country 
in his heart. It was the first American army. 

But so well did Washington manage matters 
that soon his raw troops were in good shape for 
service. And so hard did he press the king's sol- 
diers in Boston that, before another summer, they 
were glad to take ship and sail away from the 
town which they had so long infested and an- 


On the fourth day of the following July there 
was a great stir in the town of Philadelphia. 


Congress was sitting in the Hall of the State 
House. The streets were full of people ; every- 
body seemed anxious ; everybody was in sus- 

Men were crowding around the State House 
and listening. 

"Who is speaking now ?" asked one. 

"John Adams," was the answer. 

"And who is speaking now ?" 

"Doctor Franklin." 

"Good ! Let them follow his advice, for he 
knows what is best." 

Then there was a lull outside, for everybody 
wanted to hear what the great Dr. Franklin had 
to say. 

After a while the same question was asked 
again: "Who is speaking now?" 

And the answer was: 'Thomas Jefferson of 
Virginia. It was he and Franklin who wrote it." 

"Wrote what?" 

"Why, the Declaration of Independence, of 

A little later some one said : "They will be 
ready to sign it soon." 


"But will they dare to sign it ?" 

"Dare ? They dare not do otherwise." 

Inside the hall grave men were discussing the 
acts of the King of England. 

"He has cut off our trade with all parts of the 
world," said one. 

"He has forced us to pay taxes without our 
consent," said another. 

"He has sent his soldiers among us to burn 
our towns and kill our people," said a third. 

"He has tried to make the Indians our ene- 
mies," said a fourth. 

"He is a tyrant and unfit to be the ruler of a 
free people," agreed they all. 

And then everybody was silent while one read : 
"We, therefore, the representatives of the United 
States of America, solemnly publish and declare 
that the united colonies are, and of right ought 
to be, free and independent states " 

Soon afterward the bell in the high tower 
above the hall began to ring. 

"It is done!" cried the people. 'They have 
signed the Declaration of Independence." 

"Yes, every colony has voted for it," said those 


nearest the door. ''The King of England shall 
no longer rule over us." 

And that was the way in which the United 
States came into being. The thirteen colonies 
were now thirteen states. 

Up to this time Washington and his army had 
been righting for the rights of the people as col- 
onists. They had been fighting in order to oblige 
the king to do away with the unjust laws which 
he had made. But now they were to fight for 
freedom and for the independence of the United 

By and by you will read in your histories how 
wisely and bravely Washington conducted the 
war. You will learn how he held out against 
the king's soldiers on Long Island and at White 
Plains ; how he crossed the Delaware amid float- 
ing ice and drove the English from Trenton ; 
how he wintered at Morristown ; how he suffered 
at Valley Forge ; how he fought at Germantown . 
and Monmouth and Yorktown. 

There were six years of fighting, of marching 
here and there, of directing and planning, of 
struggling in the face of every discouragement. 


Eight years passed, and then peace came, for 
independence had been won, and this our country 
was made forever free. 

On the 2d of November, 1783, Washington 
bade farewell to his army. On the 23d of De- 
cember he resigned his commission as commander- 

There were some who suggested that Wash- 
ington should make himself king of this country ; 
and indeed this he might have done, so great 
was the people's love and gratitude. 

But the great man spurned such suggestions. 
He said, "If you have any regard for your country 
or respect for me, banish those thoughts and 
never again speak of them." 


Washington was now fifty-two years old. 

The country was still in an unsettled con- 
dition. True, it was free from English control. 
But there was no strong government to hold 
the states together. 

Each state was a little country of itself, mak- 
ing its own laws, and having its own selfish aims 


without much regard for its sister states. People 
did not think of the United States as one great 
undivided nation. 

And so matters were in bad enough shape, and 
they grew worse and worse as the months went by. 

Wise men saw that unless something should 
be done to bring about a closer union of the 
states, they would soon be in no better condition 
than when ruled by the English king. 

And so a great convention was held in Phila- 
delphia to determine what could be done to save 
the country from ruin. George Washington was 
chosen to preside over this convention ; and no 
man's words had greater weight than his. 

He said, "Let us raise a standard to which the 
wise and honest can repair. The event is in the 
hand of God." 

That convention did a great and wonderful 
work ; for it framed the Constitution by which 
our country has ever since been governed. 

And soon afterwards, in accordance with that 
Constitution, the people of the country were 
called upon to elect a President. Who should it 


Who could it be but Washington ? 

When the electoral votes were counted, every 
vote was for George Washington of Virginia. 

And so, on the i6th of April, 1789, the great 
man again bade adieu to Mount Vernon and to 
private life, and set out for New York. For the 
city of Washington had not yet been built, and 
New York was the first capital of our country. 

There were no railroads at that time, and so 
the journey was made in a coach. All along the 
road the people gathered to see their hero-pres- 
ident and show him their love. 

On the 3Oth of April he was inaugurated at 
the old Federal Hall in New York. 

"Long live George Washington, President of 
the United States !" shouted the people. Then 
the cannon roared, the bells rang, and the new 
government of the United States the govern- 
ment which we have to-day began its exist- 

Washington was fifty-seven years old at the 
time of his inauguration. 

Perhaps no man was ever 'called to the doing 
of more difficult things. The entire government 


must be built up from the beginning, and all its 
machinery put into order. 

But so well did he meet the expectations of 
the people, that when his first term was near its 
close he was again elected President, receiving 
every electoral vote. 

In your histories you will learn of the many 
difficult tasks which he performed during those 
years of the nation's infancy. There were new 
troubles with England, troubles with the In- 
dians, jealousies and disagreements among the 
law-makers of the country. But amidst all these 
trials Washington stood steadfast, wise, cool - 
conscious that he was right, and strong enough 
to prevail. 

Before the end of his second term, people began 
to talk about electing him for the third time. 
They could not think of any other man holding 
the highest office in the country. They feared 
that no other man could be safely entrusted with 
the great responsibilities which he had borne so 

But Washington declared that he would not 
accept office again. The government was now 


on a firm footing. There were others who could 
manage its affairs wisely and well. 

And so, in September, 1796, he published his 
Farewell Address. It was full of wise and whole- 
some advice. 

"Beware of attacks upon the Constitution. 
Beware of those who think more of their party 
than of their country. Promote education. Ob- 
serve justice. Treat with good faith all nations. 
Adhere to the right. Be united --be united. 
Love your country." These were some of the 
things that he said. 

John Adams, who had been, vice-pres- 
ident eight years, was chosen to be the new 
President, and Washington again retired to 
Mount Vernon. 


In the enjoyment of his home life, Washington 
did not forget his country. It would, indeed, 
have been hard for him not to keep informed 
about public affairs ; for men were all the time 
coming to him to ask for help and advice regard- 
ing this measure or that. 


The greatest men of the nation felt that he 
must know what was wisest and best for the 
country's welfare. 

Soon after his retirement an unexpected trouble 
arose. There was another war between England 
and France. The French were very anxious that 
the United States should join in the quarrel. 

When they could not bring this about by per- 
suasion, they tried abuse. They insulted the 
officers of our government ; they threatened war. 

The whole country was aroused. Congress be- 
gan to take steps for the raising of an army and 
the building of a navy. But who should lead the 
army ? 

All eyes were again turned toward Washing- 
ton. He had saved the country once ; he could 
save it again. The President asked him if he 
would again be the commander-in-chief. 

He answered that he would do so, on condi- 
tion that he might choose his assistants. But 
unless the French should actually invade this 
country, he must not be expected to go into the 

And so, at the last, General Washington is 


again the commander-in-chief of the American 
army. But there is to be no fighting this time. 
The French see that the people of the United 
States cannot be frightened ; they see that the 
government cannot be driven ; they leave off 
their abuse, and are ready to make friends. 

Washington's work is done now. On the I2th 
of December, 1799, he mounts his horse and rides 
out over his farms. The weather is cold ; the 
snow is falling ; but he stays out for two or three 

The next morning he has a sore throat ; he has 
taken cold. The snow is still falling, but he will 
go out again. At night he is very hoarse ; he is 
advised to take medicine. 

"Oh, no," he answers, "you know I never 
take anything for a cold." 

But in the night he grows much worse ; early 
the next morning the doctor is brought. It is 
too late. He grows rapidly worse. He knows 
that the end is near. 

" It is well," he says ; and these are his last words. 

Washington died on the I4th of December, 
1799. He had lived nearly sixty-eight years. 


His sudden death was a shock to the entire 
country. Every one felt as though he had lost a 
personal friend. The mourning for him was 
general and sincere. 

In the Congress of the United States his funeral 
oration was pronounced by his friend, Henry 
Lee, who said : 

" First in war, first in peace, and first in the 
hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none 
in the humble and endearing scenes of private 
life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, uniform, 
dignified, and commanding, his example was 
edifying to all around him, as were the effects of 
that example lasting. 

"Such was the man America has lost ! Such 
was the man for whom our country mourns !" 




Nearly two hundred years ago, there lived in 
Boston a little boy whose name was Benjamin 

On the day that he was seven years old, his 
mother gave him a few pennies. 

He looked at the bright, yellow pieces and 
said, "What shall I do with these coppers, 
mother ?" 

It was the first money that he had ever had. 

: 'You may buy something with them, if you 
would like," said his mother. 

"And will you give me more when they are 
gone ?" he asked. 

His mother shook her head and said: "No, 
Benjamin. I cannot give you any more. So you 
must be careful not to spend them foolishly." 

The little fellow ran out into the street. He 



heard the pennies jingle in his pocket as he ran. 
He felt as though he was very rich. 

Boston was at that time only a small town, 
and there were not many stores. As Benjamin 
ran down toward the busy part of the street, he 
wondered what he should buy. 

Should he buy candy or toys ? It had been a 
long time since he had tasted candy. As for 
toys, he hardly knew what they were. 

If he had been the only child in the family, 
things might have been different. But there 
were fourteen boys and girls older than he, and 
two little sisters that were younger. 

It was as much as his father could do to earn 
food and clothing for so many. There was no 
money to spend for toys. 

Before Benjamin had gone very far he met a 
boy blowing a whistle. 

'That is just the thing that I want," he said. 
Then he hurried on to the store where all kinds 
of things were kept for sale. 

"Have you any good whistles ?" he asked. 

He was out of breath from running, but he 
tried hard to speak like a man. 


"Yes, plenty of them," said the man. 

"Well, I want one, and I'll give you all the 
money I have for it," said the little fellow. He 
forgot to ask the price. 

"How much money have you ?" asked the man. 

Benjamin took the coppers from his pocket. 
The man counted them and said, "All right, my 
boy. It's a bargain." 

Then he put the pennies into his money drawer, 
and gave one of the whistles to the boy. 

Benjamin Franklin was a proud and happy 
boy. He ran home as fast as he could, blowing 
his whistle as he ran. 

His mother met him at the door and said, 
"Well, my child, what did you do with your 
pennies ?" 

"I bought a whistle !" he cried. "Just hear 
me blow it !" 

"How much did you pay for it ?" 

"All the money I had." 

One of his brothers was standing by and asked 
to see the whistle. "Well, well !" he said, "did 
you spend all of your money for this thing ?" 

"Every penny," said Benjamin. 


"Did you ask the price ?" 

"No. But I offered them to the man, and he 
said it was all right. " 

His brother laughed and said, "You are a very 
foolish fellow. You paid four times as much as 
it is worth." 

'Yes," said his mother, "I think it is rather 
a dear whistle. You had enough money to buy 
a whistle and some candy, too." 

The little boy saw what a mistake he had 
made. The whistle did not please him any more. 
He threw it upon the floor, and began to cry. 
But his mother took him upon her lap and said : 
"Never mind, my child. We must all live and 
learn ; and I think that my little boy will be 
careful, after this, not to pay too dear for his 


When Benjamin Franklin was a boy there 
were no great public schools in Boston as there 
are now. But he learned to read almost as soon 
as he could talk, and he was always fond of books. 

His nine brothers were older than he, and 


every one had learned a trade. They did not 

I care so much for books. 
"Benjamin shall be the scholar of our family," 
said his mother. 

"Yes, we will educate him for a minister," said 
his father. For at that time all the most learned 
men were ministers. 

And so, when he was eight years old, Benja- 
min Franklin was sent to a grammar school, 
where boys were prepared for college. He was 
a very apt scholar, and in a few months was pro- 
moted to a higher class. 

But the lad was not allowed to stay long in 
the grammar school. His father was a poor 
man. It would cost a great deal of money to 
give Benjamin a college education. The times 
were very hard. The idea of educating the boy 
for the ministry had to be given up. 

In less than a year he was taken from the 
grammar school, and sent to another school 
where arithmetic and writing were taught. 

He learned to write very well, indeed ; but he 
did not care so much for arithmetic, and so failed 
to do what was expected of him. 


When he was ten years old he had to leave 
school altogether. His father needed his help ; 
and though Benjamin was but a small boy, there 
were many things that he could do. 

He never attended school again. But he kept 
on studying and reading ; and we shall find 
that he afterwards became the most learned man 
in America. 

Benjamin's father was a soap-boiler and candle- 
maker. And so when the boy was taken from 
school, what kind of work do you think he had 
to do ? 

He was kept busy cutting wicks for the candles, 
pouring the melted tallow into the candle-moulds, 
and selling soap to his father's customers. 

Do you suppose that he liked this business ? 

He did not like it at all. And when he saw 
the ships sailing in and out of Boston harbor, he 
longed to be a sailor and go to strange, far-away 
lands, where candles and soap were unknown. 

But his father would not listen to any of his 
talk about going to sea. 



Busy as Benjamin was in his father's shop, he 
still had time to play a good deal. 

He was liked by all the boys of the neighbor- 
hood, and they looked up to him as their leader. 
In all their games he was their captain ; and noth- 
ing was undertaken without asking his advice. 

Not far from the home of the Franklins there 
was a mill pond, where the boys often went to 
swim. When the tide was high they liked to 
stand at a certain spot on the shore of the pond 
and fish for minnows. 

But the ground was marshy and wet, and the 
boys' feet sank deep in the mud. 

"Let us build a wharf along the water's edge," 
said Benjamin. 'Then we can stand and fish 
with some comfort." 

"Agreed!" said the boys. "But what is the 
wharf to be made of ?" 

Benjamin pointed to a heap of stones that lay 
not far away. They had been hauled there only 
a few days before, and were to be used in build- 
ing a new house near the mill pond. 


The boys needed only a hint. Soon they were 
as busy as ants, dragging the stones to the water's 

Before it was fully dark that evening, they had 
built a nice stone wharf on which they could 
stand and fish without danger of sinking in the 

The next morning the workmen came to begin 
the building of the house. They were surprised 
to find all the stones gone from the place where 
they had been thrown. But the tracks of the 
boys in the mud told the story. 

It was easy enough to find out who had done the 

When the boys' fathers were told of the trouble 
which they had caused, you may imagine what 
they did. 

Young Benjamin Franklin tried hard to ex- 
plain that a wharf on the edge of the mill pond 
was a public necessity. 

His father would not listen to him. He said, 
"My son, nothing can ever be truly useful which 
is not at the same time truly honest." 

And Benjamin never forgot this lesson. 



As I have already said, young Benjamin did 
not like the work which he had to do in his 
father's shop. 

His father was not very fond of the trade him- 
self, and so he could not blame the boy. One 
day he said : 

"Benjamin, since you have made up your 
mind not to be a candle-maker, what trade do 
you think you would like to learn ?" 

"You know I would like to be a sailor," said 
the boy. 

"But you shall not be a sailor," said his father. 
"I intend that you shall learn some useful busi- 
ness on land ; and, of course, you will succeed 
best in that kind of business which is most pleas- 
ant to you." 

The next day he took the boy to walk with 
him among the shops of Boston. They saw 
all kinds of workmen busy at their various 

Benjamin was delighted. Long afterwards, 
when he had become a very great man, he said, 


"It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see 
good workmen handle their tools." 

He gave up the thought of going to sea, and 
said that he would learn any trade that his father 
would choose for him. 

His father thought that the cutler's trade was 
a good one. His cousin, Samuel Franklin, had 
just set up a cutler's shop in Boston, and he 
agreed to take Benjamin a few days on trial. 

Benjamin was pleased with the idea of learn- 
ing how to make knives and scissors and razors 
and all other kinds of cutting tools. But his cousin 
wanted so much money for teaching him the trade 
that his father could not afford it ; and so the lad 
was taken back to the candle-maker's shop. 

Soon after this, Benjamin's brother, James 
Franklin, set up a printing press in Boston. He 
intended to print and publish books and a news- 

"Benjamin loves books," said his father. "He 
shall learn to be a printer." 

And so, when he was twelve years old, he was 
bound to his brother to learn the printer's trade. 
He was to stay with him until he was twenty- 


one. He was to have his board and clothing and 
no other wages, except during the last year. I 
suppose that during the last year he was to be 
paid the same as any other workman. 


When Benjamin Franklin was a boy thr^e 
were no books for children. Yet he spent most 
of his spare time in reading. 

His father's books were not easy to under- 
stand. People nowadays would think them very 
dull and heavy. 

But before he was twelve years old, Benjamin 
had read the most of them. He read everything 
that he could get. 

After he went to work for his brother he 
found it easier to obtain good books. Often he 
would borrow a book in the evening, and then 
sit up nearly all night reading it so as to return 
it in the morning. 

When the owners of books found that he al- 
ways returned them soon and clean, they were 
very willing to lend him whatever he wished. 

He was about fourteen years of age when he 


began to study how to write clearly and correctly. 
He afterwards told how he did this. He said : 

"About this time I met with an odd volume 
of the Spectator. I had never before seen any 
of them. 

"I bought it, read it over and over, and was 
much delighted with it. 

"I thought the writing excellent, and wished 
if possible to imitate it. 

"With that view, I took some of the papers, 
and making short hints of the sentiments in each 
sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, 
without looking at the book, tried to complete 
the papers again, by expressing each hinted sen- 
timent at length and as fully as it had been ex- 
pressed before, in any suitable words that should 
occur to me. 

'Then I compared my Spectator with the orig- 
inal, discovered some of my faults and corrected 

" But I found that I wanted a stock of words, 
or a readiness in recollecting and using them. 

'Therefore I took some of the tales in the 
Spectator and turned them into verse ; and, after 


a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the 
prose, turned them back again." 

About this time his brother began to publish a 

It was the fourth newspaper published in 
America, and was called the New England 

People said that it was a foolish undertaking. 
They said that one newspaper was enough for 
this country, and that there would be but little 
demand for more. 

In those days editors did not dare to write 
freely about public affairs. It was dangerous to 
criticise men who were in power. 

James Franklin published something in the 
New England Courant about the lawmakers of 
Massachusetts. It made the lawmakers very 
angry. They caused James Franklin to be shut 
up in prison for a month, and they ordered that 
he should no longer print the newspaper called 
the New England Courant. 

But, in spite of this order, the newspaper was 
printed every week as before. It was printed, 
however, in the name of Benjamin Franklin. 


For several years it bore his name as editor and 


Benjamin Franklin did not have a very happy 
life with his brother James. 

His brother was a hard master, and was al- 
ways finding fault with his workmen. Some- 
times he would beat young Benjamin and abuse 
him without cause. 

When Benjamin was nearly seventeen years 
old he made up his mind that he would not en- 
dure this treatment any longer. 

He told his brother that he would leave him 
and find work with some one else. 

When his brother learned that he really meant 
to do this, he went round to all the other printers 
in Boston and persuaded them not to give Ben- 
jamin any work. 

The father took James's part, and scolded 
Benjamin for being so saucy and so hard to please. 
But Benjamin would not go back to James's 
printing house. 

He made up his mind that since he could not 


find work in Boston he would run away from his 
home. He would go to New York and look for 
work there. 

He sold his books to raise a little money. 
Then, without saying good-bye to his father or 
mother or any of his brothers or sisters, he 
went on board a ship that was just ready to sail 
from the harbor. 

It is not likely that he was very happy while 
doing this. Long afterwards he said: "I reckon 
this as one of the first errata of my life." 

What did he mean by errata? 

Errata are mistakes mistake? that cannot 
easily be corrected. 

Three days after leaving Boston, young Frank- 
lin found himself in New York. It was then 
October, in the year 1723. 

The lad had but very little money in his pocket. 
There was no one in New York that he knew. He 
was three hundred miles from home and friends. 

As soon as he landed he went about the streets 
looking for work. 

New York was only a little town then, and 
there was not a newspaper in it. There were 


but a few printing houses there, and these had 
not much work to do. The boy from Boston 
called at every place, but he found that nobody 
wanted to employ any more help. 

At one of the little printing houses Franklin 
was told that perhaps he could find work in Phil- 
adelphia, which was at that time a much more 
important place than New York. 

Philadelphia was one hundred miles farther 
from home. One hundred miles was a long dis- 
tance in those days. 

But Franklin made up his mind to go there 
without delay. It would be easier to do this 
than to give up and try to return to Boston. 


There are two ways of going from New York 
to Philadelphia. 

One way is by the sea. The other is by land, 
across the state of New Jersey. 

As Franklin had but little money, he took the 
shorter route by land ; but he sent his little chest, 
containing his Sunday clothes, round by sea, in 
a boat. 


He walked all the way from Perth Amboy, on 
the eastern shore of New Jersey, to Burlington, 
on the Delaware River. 

Nowadays you may travel that distance in 
an hour, for it is only about fifty miles. 

But there were no railroads at that time ; and 
Franklin was nearly three days trudging along 
lonely wagon-tracks, in the midst of a pouring rain. 

At Burlington he was lucky enough to be 
taken on board a small boat that was going down 
the river. 

Burlington is only twenty miles above Phila- 
delphia. But the boat moved very slowly, and 
as there was no wind, the men took turns at 

Night came on, and they were afraid that they 
might pass by Philadelphia in the darkness. So 
they landed, and camped on shore till morning. 

Early the next day they reached Philadelphia, 
and Benjamin Franklin stepped on shore at the 
foot of Market Street, where the Camden ferry- 
boats now land. 

No one who saw him could have guessed that 
he would one day be the greatest man in the city. 


He was a sorry-looking fellow. 

He was dressed in his working clothes, and 
was very dirty from being so long on the road 
and in the little boat. 

His pockets were stuffed out with shirts and 
stockings, and all the money that he had was not 
more than a dollar. 

He was hungry and tired. He had not a single 
friend. He did not know of any place where he 
could look for lodging. 

It was Sunday morning. 

He went a little way up the street, and looked 
around him. 

A boy was coming down, carrying a basket of 

"My young friend," said Franklin, "where did 
you get that bread ?" 

"At the baker's," said the boy. 

"And where is the baker's ?" 

The boy showed him the little baker shop just 
around the corner. 

Young Franklin was so hungry that he could 
hardly wait. He hurried into the shop and asked 
for three-penny worth of bread. 


The baker gave him three great, puffy rolls. 

Franklin had not expected to get so much, but 
he took the rolls and walked out. 

His pockets were already full, and so, while he 
ate one roll, he held the others under his arms. 

As he went up Market Street, eating his roll, a 
young girl stood in a doorway laughing at him. 
He was, indeed, a very funny-looking fellow. 

The girl's name was Deborah Read. A few 
years after that, she became the wife of Benjamin 

Hungry as he was, Franklin found that he 
could eat but one of the rolls, and so he gave the 
other two to a poor woman who had come down 
the river in the same boat with him. 

As he was strolling along the street he came 
to a Quaker meetinghouse. 

The door was open, and many people were sit- 
ting quietly inside. The seats looked inviting, 
and so Franklin walked in and sat down. 

The day was warm ; the people in the house 
were very still ; Franklin was tired. In a few 
minutes he was sound asleep. 

And so it was in a Quaker meetinghouse that 


Berijartlin Franklin found the first shelter and 
rest in Philadelphia. 

Later in the day, as Franklin was strolling 
toward the river, he met a young man whose 
honest face was very pleasing to him. 

"My friend," he said, "can you tell me of any 
house where they lodge strangers ?" 

:< Yes," said the young man, "there is a house 
on this very street ; but it is not a place I can 
recommend. If thee will come with me I will 
show thee a better one." 

Franklin walked with him to a house on Water 
Street, and there he found lodging for the night. 

And so ended his first day in Philadelphia. 


Franklin soon obtained work in a printing 
house owned by a man named Keimer. 

He found a boarding place in the house of Mr. 
'Read, the father of the girl who had laughed at 
him with his three rolls. 

He was only seventeen years old, and he soon 
became acquainted with several young people in 
the town who loved books. 


In a little while he began to lay up money, 
and he tried to forget his old home in Boston as 
much as he could. 

One day a letter came to Philadelphia for Ben- 
jamin Franklin. 

It was from Captain Robert Holmes, a brother- 
in-law of Franklin's. 

Captain Holmes was the master of a trading 
sloop that sailed between Boston and Delaware 
Bay. While he was loading his vessel at New- 
castle, forty miles below Philadelphia, he had 
happened to hear about the young man Franklin 
who had lately come from Boston. 

He sat down at once and wrote a letter to the 
young man. He told him how his parents and 
friends were grieving for him in Boston. He 
begged him to go back home, and said that every- 
thing would be made right if he would do so. 

When Franklin read this letter he felt very 
sad to think of the pain and distress which he 
had caused. 

But he did not want to return to Boston. He 
felt that he had been badly treated by his brother, 
and, therefore, that he was not the only one to 


be blamed. He believed that he could do much 
better in Philadelphia than anywhere else. 

So he sat down and wrote an answer to Cap- 
tain Holmes. He wrote it with great care, and 
sent it off to Newcastle by the first boat that was 
going that way. 

Now it so happened that Sir William Keith, 
the governor of the province, was at Newcastle 
at that very time. He was with Captain Holmes 
when the letter came to hand. 

When Captain Holmes had read the letter he was 
so pleased with it that he showed it to the governor. 

Governor Keith read it and was surprised when 
he learned that its writer was a lad only seventeen 
years old. 

"He is a young man of great promise," he 
said ; "and he must be encouraged. The printers 
in Philadelphia know nothing about their busi- 
ness. If young Franklin will stay there and set 
up a press, I will do a great deal for him." 

One day not long after that, when Franklin 
was at work in Keimer's printing-office, the gov- 
ernor came to see him. Franklin was very much 


The governor offered to set him up in a busi- 
ness of his own. He promised that he should 
have all the public printing in the province. 

"But you will have to go to England to buy 
your types and whatever else you may need." 

Franklin agreed to do this. But he must first 
return to Boston and get his father's consent and 

The governor gave him a letter to carry to his 
father. In a few weeks he was on his way home. 

You may believe that Benjamin's father and 
mother were glad to see him. He had been gone 
seven months, and in all that time they had not 
heard a word from him. 

His brothers and sisters were glad to see him, 
too all but the printer, James, who treated 
him very unkindly. 

His father read the governor's letter, and then 
shook his head. 

"What kind of a man is this Governor Keith ?" 
he asked. "He must have but little judgment 
to think of setting up a mere boy in business of 
this kind." 

After that he wrote a letter of thanks to the 


governor. He said that he was grateful for the 
kindness he had shown to his son, and for his 
offer to help him. But he thought that Benjamin 
was still too young to be trusted with so great a 
business, and therefore he would not consent to 
him undertaking it. As for helping him, that he 
could not do ; for he had but little more money 
than was needed to carry on his own affairs. 


Benjamin Franklin felt much disappointed 
when his father refused to help send him to Eng- 
land. But he was not discouraged. 

In a few weeks he was ready to return to Phila- 
delphia. This time he did not have to run away 
from home. 

His father blessed him, and his mother gave 
him many small gifts as tokens of her love. 

"Be diligent," said his father, "attend well to 
your business, and save your money carefully, 
and, perhaps, by the time you are twenty-one 
years old, you will be able to set up for yourself 
without the governor's help." 

All the family, except James the printer, bade 


him a kind good-bye, as he went on board the 
little ship that was to take him as far as New 

There was another surprise for him when he 
reached New York. 

The governor of New York had heard that 
there was a young man from Boston on board 
the ship, and that he had a great many books. 

There were no large libraries in New York at 
that time. There were no bookstores, and but 
few people who cared for books. 

So the governor sent for Franklin to come and 
see him. He showed him his own library, and 
they had a long talk about books and authors. 

This was the second governor that had taken 
notice of Benjamin. For a poor boy, like him, 
it was a great honor, and very pleasing. 

When he arrived in Philadelphia he gave to 
Governor Keith the letter which his father had 

The governor was not very well pleased. He 
said : 

:< Your father is too careful. There is a great 
difference in persons. Young men can some- 


times be trusted with great undertakings as 
well as if they were older." 

He then said that he would set Franklin up in 
business without his father's help. 

"Give me a list of everything needed in a first- 
class printing-office. I will see that you are prop- 
erly fitted out." 

Franklin was delighted. He thought that 
Governor Keith was one of the best men in the 

In a few days he laid before the governor a 
list of the things needed in a little printing-office. 

The cost of the outfit would be about five 
hundred dollars. 

The governor was pleased with the list. There 
were no type-foundries in America at that time. 
There was no place where printing-presses were 
made. Everything had to be bought in England. 

The governor said, "Don't you think it would 
be better if you could go to England and choose 
the types for yourself, and see that everything 
is just as you would like to have it ?" 

:< Yes, sir," said Franklin, "I think that would 
be a great advantage." 


"Well, then," said the governor, "get yourself 
ready to go on the next regular ship to London. 
It shall be at my expense." 

At that time there was only one ship that 
made regular trips from Philadelphia to Eng- 
land, and it sailed but once each year. 

The name of this ship was the Annis. It would 
not be ready to sail again for several months. 

And so young Franklin, while he was getting 
ready for the voyage, kept on working in Mr. 
Keimer's little printing-office. 

He laid up money enough to pay for his pas- 
sage. He did not want to be dependent upon 
Governor Keith for everything ; and it was well 
that he did not. 


At last the Annis was ready to sail. 

Governor Keith had promised to give to young 
Franklin letters of introduction to some of his 
friends in England. 

He had also promised to give him money to 
buy his presses and type. 

But when Franklin called at the governor's 


house to bid him good-bye, and to get the letters, 
the governor was too busy to see him. He said 
that he would send the letters and the money to 
him on shipboard. 

The ship sailed. 

But no letters, nor any word from Governor 
Keith, had been sent to Franklin. 

When he at last arrived in London he found 
himself without money and without friends. 

Governor Keith had given him nothing but 
promises. He would never give him anything 
more. He was a man whose word was not to be 
depended upon. 

Franklin was then just eighteen years old. 
He must now depend wholly upon himself. He 
must make his own way in the world, without 
aid from anyone. 

He went out at once to look for work. He 
found employment in a printing-office, and there 
he stayed for nearly a year. 

Franklin made many acquaintances with liter- 
ary people while he was in London. 

He proved himself to be a young man of talent 
and ingenuity. He was never idle. 


His companions in the printing-office were 
beer-drinkers and sots. He often told them how 
foolish they were to spend their money and ruin 
themselves for drink. 

He drank nothing but water. He was strong 
and active. He could carry more, and do more 
work, than any of them. 

He persuaded many of them to leave off drink- 
ing, and to lead better lives. 

Franklin was also a fine swimmer. There was 
no one in London who could swim as well. He 
wrote two essays on swimming and made some 
plans for opening a swimming school. 

When he had been in London about a year, he 
met a Mr. Denham, a merchant of Philadelphia, 
and a strong friendship sprang up between them. 

Mr. Denham at last persuaded Franklin to re- 
turn to Philadelphia, and be a clerk in his dry- 
goods store. 

And so, on the 23rd of the next July, he set 
sail for home. The ship was nearly three months 
in making the voyage, and it was not until Octo- 
ber that he again set foot in Philadelphia. 



When Franklin was twenty-four years old he 
was married to Miss Deborah Read, the young 
lady who had laughed at him when he was walk- 
ing the street with his three rolls. 

They lived together very happily for a great 
many years. 

Some time before this marriage, Franklin's 
friend and employer, Mr. Denham, had died. 

The dry-goods store, of which he was the 
owner, had been sold, and Franklin's occupation 
as a salesman, or clerk, was gone. But the young 
man had shown himself to be a person of great 
industry and ability. He had the confidence of 
everybody that knew him. 

A friend of his, who had money, offered to 
take him as a partner in the newspaper business. 
And so he again became a printer, and the .editor 
of a paper called the Pennsylvania Gazette. 

It was not long until Franklin was recognized 
as one of the leading men in Philadelphia. His 
name was known, not only in Pennsylvania, but 
in all the colonies. 


He was all the time thinking of plans for mak- 
ing the people about him wiser and better and 

He established a subscription and circulating 
library, the first in America. This library was 
the beginning of the present Philadelphia Public 

He wrote papers on education. He founded 
the University of Pennsylvania. He organized 
the American Philosophical Society.. 

He established the first fire company in Phila- 
delphia, which was also the first in America. 

He invented a copper-plate press, and printed 
the first paper money of New Jersey. 

He also invented the iron fireplace, which is 
called the Franklin stove, and is still used where 
wood is plentiful and cheap. 

After an absence of ten years, he paid a visit 
to his old home in Boston. Everybody was glad 
to see him now, even his brother James, the 

When he returned to Philadelphia, he was 
elected clerk of the colonial assembly. 

Not long after that, he was chosen to be post- 


master of the city. But his duties in this capac- 
ity did not require very much labor in those 

He did not handle as much mail in a whole 
year as passes now through the Philadelphia 
post-office in a single hour. 


Here are some of the rules of life which 
Franklin made for himself when he was a very 
young man : 

1. To live very frugally till he had paid all 
that he owed. 

2. To speak the truth at all times ; to be sin- 
cere in word and action. 

3. To apply himself earnestly to whatever 
business he took in hand ; and to shun all foolish 
projects for becoming suddenly rich. "For in- 
dustry and patience," he said, "are the surest 
means of plenty." 

4. To speak ill of no man whatever, not even 
in a matter of truth ; but to speak all the good 
he knew of everybody. 

When he was twenty-six years old, he pub- 


lished the first number of an almanac called Poor 
Richard's Almanac. 

This almanac was full of wise and witty say- 
ings, and everybody soon began to talk about it. 

Every year, for twenty-five years, a new num- 
ber of Poor Richard's Almanac was printed. It 
was sold in all parts of the country. People 
who had no other books would buy and read 
Poor Richard's Almanac. The library of many a 
farmer consisted of only the family Bible with 
one or more numbers of this famous almanac. 

Here are a few of Poor Richard's sayings : 

"A word to the wise is enough." 

"God helps them that help themselves." 

" Early to bed and early to rise, 
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." 

'There are no gains without pains." 

"Plow deep while sluggards sleep, 
And you shall have corn to sell and to keep." 

"One to-day is worth two to-morrows." 

"Little strokes fell great oaks." 

" Keep thy shop and thy shop will keep thee." 

'The sleeping fox catches no poultry." 

"Diligence is the mother of good luck." 


"Constant dropping wears away stones." 

"A small leak will sink a great ship." 

"Who dainties love shall beggars prove." 

"Creditors have better memories than debtors." 

"Many a little makes a mickle." 

"Fools make feasts and wise men eat them." 

"Many have been ruined by buying good 


"Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt." 
" For age and want save while you may ; 

No morning sun lasts the whole day." 
It is pleasant to know that Franklin observed 

the rules of life which he made. And his wife, 

Deborah, was as busy and as frugal as himself. 
They kept no idle servants. Their furniture 

was of the cheapest sort. Their food was plain 

and simple. 

Franklin's breakfast, for many years, was only 

bread and milk ; and he ate it out of a two-penny 

earthen bowl with a pewter spoon. 

But at last, when he was called one morning to 

breakfast, he found his milk in a china bowl ; and 

by the side of the bowl there was a silver spoon. 
His wife had bought them for him as a sur- 


prise. She said that she thought her husband 
deserved a silver spoon and china bowl as well 
as any of his neighbors. 


And so, as you have seen, Benjamin Franklin 
became in time one of the foremost men in our 

In 1753, when he was forty-five years old, he 
was made deputy postmaster-general for America. 

He was to have a salary of about $3,000 a 
year, and was to pay his own assistants. 

People were astonished when he proposed to 
have the mail carried regularly once every week 
between New York and Boston. 

Letters starting from Philadelphia on Monday 
morning would reach Boston the next Saturday 
night. This was thought to be a wonderful 
and almost impossible feat. But nowadays, 
letters leaving Philadelphia at midnight are read 
at the breakfast tables in Boston the next morning. 

At that time there were not seventy post-offices 
in the whole country. There are now more than 
seventy thousand. 


Benjamin Franklin held the office of deputy 
postmaster-general for the American colonies for 
twenty-one years. 

In 1754 there was a meeting of the leading 
men of all the colonies at Albany. There were 
fears of a war with the French and Indians of 
Canada, and the colonies had sent these men to 
plan some means of defence. 

Benjamin Franklin was one of the men from 
Pennsylvania at this meeting. 

He presented a plan for the union of the col- 
onies, and it was adopted. But our English 
rulers said it was too democratic, and refused to 
let it go into operation. 

This scheme of Franklin's set the people of the 
colonies to thinking. Why should the colonies 
not unite ? Why should they not help one 
another, and thus form one great country ? 

And so, we may truthfully say that it was 
Benjamin Franklin who first put into men's 
minds the idea of the great Union which we now 
call the United States of America. 

The people of the colonies were not happy 
under the rule of the English. One by one, laws 


were made which they looked upon as oppressive 
and burdensome. These laws were not intended 
to benefit the American people, but were de- 
signed to enrich the merchants and politicians of 

In 1757 the people of Pennsylvania, Massachu- 
setts, Maryland, and Georgia, decided to send 
some one to England to petition against these 

In all the colonies there was no man better 
fitted for this business than Benjamin Franklin. 
And so he was the man sent. 

The fame of the great American had gone be- 
fore him. Everybody seemed anxious to do him 

He met many of the leading men of the day, 
and he at last succeeded in gaining the object of 
his mission. 

But such business moved slowly in those times. 
I Five years passed before he was ready to return 
to America. 

He reached Philadelphia in November, 1762, 
and the colonial assembly of Pennsylvania 
thanked him publicly for his great services. 


But new troubles soon came up between the 
colonies and the government in England. Other 
laws were passed, more oppressive than before. 

It was proposed to tax the colonies, and to 
force the colonists to buy stamped paper. This 
last act was called the Stamp Tax, and the Ameri- 
can people opposed it with all their might. 

Scarcely had Franklin been at home two years 
when he was again sent to England to plead the 
cause of his countrymen. 

This time he remained abroad for more than 
ten years ; but he was not so successful as before. 

In 1774 he appeared before the king's council to 
present a petition from the people of Massachusetts. 

He was now a venerable man nearly seventy 
years of age. He was the most famous man of 

His petition was rejected. He himself was 
shamefully insulted and abused by one of the 
members of the council. The next day he was 
dismissed from the office of deputy postmaster- 
general of America. 

In May, 1775, he was again at home in Phila- 


Two weeks before his arrival the battle of Lex- 
ington had been fought, and the war of the Revo- 
lution had been begun. 

Franklin had done all that he could to persuade 
the English king to deal justly with the Ameri- 
can colonies. But the king and his counselors 
had refused to listen to him. 

During his ten years abroad he had not stayed 
all the time in England. He had traveled in 
many countries of Europe, and had visited Paris 
several times. 

Many changes had taken place while he was 

His wife, Mrs. Deborah Franklin, had died. 
His parents and fifteen of his brothers and sisters 
had also been laid in the grave. 

The rest of his days were to be spent in the 
service of his country, to which he had already 
given nearly twenty years of his life. 


Benjamin Franklin was not only a printer, 
politician, and statesman, he was the first sci- 
entist of America. In the midst of perplexing 


cares it was his delight to study the laws of na- 
ture and try to understand some of the mys- 
teries of creation. 

In his time no very great discoveries had yet 
been made. The steam engine was unknown. 
The telegraph had not so much as been dreamed 
about. Thousands of comforts which we now 
enjoy through the discoveries of science were 
then unthought of; or if thought of, they were 
deemed to be impossible. 

Franklin began to make experiments in elec- 
tricity when he was about forty years old. 

He was the first person to discover that light- 
ning is caused by electricity. He had long 
thought that this was true, but he had no means 
of proving it. 

He thought that if he could stand on some high 
tower during a thunderstorm, he might be able 
to draw some of the electricity from the clouds 
through a pointed iron rod. But there was no 
high tower in Philadelphia. There was not even 
a tall church spire. 

At last he thought of making a kite and send- 
ing it up to the clouds. A paper kite, however, 


would be ruined by the rain and would not fly to 
any great height. 

So instead of paper he used a light silk hand- 
kerchief which he fastened to two slender but 
strong cross pieces. At the top of the kite he 
placed a pointed iron rod. The string was of 
hemp, except a short piece at the lower end, 
which was of silk. At the end of the hemp string 
an iron key was tied. 

"I think that is a queer kind of kite," said 
Franklin's little boy. "What are you going to 
do with it ?" 

"Wait until the next thunderstorm, and you 
will see," said Franklin. :< You may go with me 
and we will send it up to the clouds." 

He told no one else about it, for if the experi- 
ment should fail, he did not care to have every- 
body laugh at him. 

At last, one day, a thunderstorm came up, 
and Franklin, with his son, went out into a field 
to fly his kite. There was a steady breeze, and 
it was easy to send the kite far up towards the 

Then, holding the silken end of the string, 


Franklin stood under a little shed in the field, 
and watched to see what would happen. 

The lightnings flashed, the thunder rolled, but 
there was no sign of electricity in the kite. At 
last, when he was about to give up the experi- 
ment, Franklin saw the loose fibers of his hempen 
string begin to move. 

He put his knuckles close to the key, and 
sparks of fire came flying to his hand. He was 
wild with delight. The sparks of fire were elec- 
tricity ; he had drawn them from the clouds. 

That experiment, if Franklin had only known 
it, was a very dangerous one. It was fortunate for 
him, and for the world, that he suffered no harm. 
More than one person who has since tried to draw 
electricity from the clouds has been killed by the 
lightning that has flashed down the hempen kite 

When Franklin's discovery was made known 
it caused great excitement among the learned 
men of Europe. They could not believe it was 
true until some of them had proved it by similar 

They could hardly believe that a man in the 


far-away city of Philadelphia could make a dis- 
covery which they had never thought of as 
possible. Indeed, how could an American do 
anything that was worth doing ? 

Franklin soon became famous in foreign coun- 
tries as a philosopher and man of science. The 
universities of Oxford and Edinburgh honored 
him by conferring upon him their highest degrees. 
He was now Doctor Benjamin Franklin. But 
in America people still thought of him only as 
a man of affairs, as a great printer, and as the 
editor of Poor Richard's Almanac. 

All this happened before the beginning of his 
career as ambassador from the colonies to the 
king and government of England. 

I cannof. tell you of all of his discoveries in 
science. He invented the lightning rod, and, by 
trying many experiments, he learned more about 
electricity than the world had ever known before. 

He made many curious experiments to dis- 
cover the laws of heat, light, and sound. By 
laying strips of colored cloth on snow, he learned 
which colors are the best conductors of heat. 

He invented the harmonica, an ingenious musi- 


cal instrument, in which the sounds were pro- 
duced by musical glasses. 

During his long stay abroad he did not neglect 
his scientific studies. He visited many of the 
greatest scholars of the time, and was every- 
where received with much honor. 

The great scientific societies of Europe, the 
Royal Academies in Paris and in Madrid, had 
already elected him as one of their members. 
The King of France wrote him a letter, thank- 
ing him for his useful discoveries in electricity, 
and for his invention of the lightning rod. 

All this would have made some men very 
proud. But it was not so with Dr. Franklin. In 
a letter which he wrote to a friend at the time 
when these honors were beginning to be showered 
upon him, he said : 

'The pride of man is very differently gratified ; 
and had his Majesty sent me a marshal's staff I 
think I should scarce have been so proud of it as 
I am of your esteem." 



In 1776 delegates from all the colonies met in 
Philadelphia. They formed what is known in 
history as the Second Continental Congress of 

It was now more than a year since the war 
had begun, and the colonists had made up their 
minds not to obey the oppressive laws of the 
King of England and his council. 

Many of them were strongly in favor of setting 
up a new government of their own. 

The Congress, therefore, appointed a committee 
of three of its members to draft a declaration of 
independence. Benjamin Franklin was one of 
that committee. 

On the 4th of July, Congress declared the col- 
onies to be free and independent states, no longer 
subject to the laws of England. Among the men 
who signed their names to this Declaration of 
Independence was Benjamin Franklin of Penn- 

Soon after this Dr. Franklin was sent to Paris 
as minister from the United States. Early in the 


following year, 1777, he induced the King of 
France to acknowledge the independence of this 

He thus secured aid for the Americans at a 
time when they were in the greatest need of it. 
Had it not been for his services at this time, 
the war of the Revolution might have ended 
very differently, indeed. 

It was not until 1785 that he was again able to 
return to his home. 

He was then nearly eighty years old. 

He had served his country faithfully for fifty- 
three years. He would have been glad if he 
might retire to private life, but the people who 
knew and appreciated his great worth, would not 
permit him to do so. 

When he reached Philadelphia he was received 
with joy by thousands of his countrymen. 

General George Washington was among the 
first to welcome him, and to thank him for his 
great services. 

That same year the grateful people of his state 
elected him President of Pennsylvania. 

Two years afterwards, he wrote : 


" I am here in my niche in my own house, in the 
bosom of my family, my daughter and grand- 
children all about me, among my old friends, or 
the sons of my friends, who equally respect me. 

"In short, I enjoy here every opportunity of 
doing good, and everything else I could wish 
for, except repose ; and that I may soon expect, 
either by the cessation of my office, which can- 
not last more than three years, or by ceasing to 

The next year he was a delegate to the con- 
vention which formed the present Constitution 
of the United States. By the adoption of this 
Constitution, the thirteen United States became a 
single nation worthy to be ranked with the other 
great governments of the world. 

In a letter written to his friend, General 
Washington, not long afterwards, Benjamin 
Franklin said : " For my personal ease I should 
have died two years ago ; but though those 
years have been spent in pain, I am glad to have 
lived them, since I can look upon our present 

In April, 1790, he died, and was buried by the 


side of his wife, Deborah, in Arch Street grave- 
yard in Philadelphia. His age was eighty-four 
years and three months. 

Many years before his death he had written 
the following epitaph for himself: 

"The Body 


Benjamin Franklin, Printer, 
(Like the cover of an old book, 

Its contents torn out, 
And stripped of its lettering and gilding,) 

Lies here food for worms. 

Yet the work itself shall not be lost, 

For it will (as he believed) appear once more 

In a new 

And more beautiful Edition, 
Corrected and Amended 

The Author." 



Many years ago there lived in New Hampshire 
a poor farmer, whose name was Ebenezer Webster. 

His little farm was among the hills, not far 
from the Merrimac River. It was a beautiful 
place to live in ; but the ground was poor, and 
there were so many rocks that you would wonder 
how anything could grow among them. 

Ebenezer Webster was known far and wide as 
a brave, wise man. When any of his neighbors 
were in trouble or in doubt about anything, they 
always said, "We will ask Captain Webster about 

They called him Captain because he had fought 
the French and Indians and had been a brave 
soldier in the Revolutionary War. Indeed, he 
was one of the first men in New Hampshire to 
take up arms for his country. 



When he heard that the British were sending 
soldiers to America to force the people to obey 
the unjust laws of the King of England, he said, 
"We must never submit to this." 

So he went among his neighbors and persuaded 
them to sign a pledge to do all that they could 
to defend the country against the British. Then 
he raised a company of two hundred men and 
led them to Boston to join the American army. 

The Revolutionary War lasted several years ; 
and during all that time, Captain Webster was 
known as one of the bravest of the American 

One day, at West Point, he met General Wash- 
ington. The patriots were in great trouble at 
that time, for one of their leaders had turned 
traitor and had gone to help the British. The 
officers and soldiers were much distressed, for 
they did not know who might be the next to de- 
sert them. 

As I have said, Captain Webster met General 
Washington. The general took the captain's 
hand, and said, "I believe that I can trust you, 
Captain Webster." 


You may believe that this made Captain Web- 
ster feel very happy. When he went back to his 
humble home among the New Hampshire hills, 
he was never so proud as when telling his neigh- 
bors about this meeting with General Washington. 

If you could have seen Captain Ebenezer Web- 
ster in those days, you would have looked at him 
more than once. He was a remarkable man. 
He was very tall and straight, with dark, glowing 
eyes, and hair as black as night. His face was 
kind, but it showed much firmness and decision. 

He had never attended school ; but he had 

tried, as well as he could, to educate himself. It 

N > 

was on account of his honesty and good judg- 
ment that he was looked up to as the leading 
man in the neighborhood. 

In some way, I do not know how, he had gotten 
a little knowledge of the law. And at last, be- 
cause of this as well as because of his sound com- 
mon sense, he was appointed judge of the court 
in his county. 

This was several years after the war was over. 
He was now no longer called Captain Webster, but 
Judge Webster. 


It had been very hard for him to make a living 
for his large family on the stony farm among the 
hills. But now his office as judge would bring 
him three hundred or four hundred dollars a 
year. He had never had so much money in 
his life. 

"Judge Webster," said one of his neighbors, 
"what are you going to do with the money that 
you get from your office ? Going to build a new 
house ?" 

"Well, no," said the judge. 'The old house 
is small, but we have lived in it a long time, and 
it still does very well." 

"Then I suppose you are planning to buy more 
land ?" said the neighbor. 

"No, indeed, I have as much land now as I can 
cultivate. But I will tell you what I am going 
to do with my money. I am going to try to edu- 
cate my boys. I would rather do this than have 
lands and houses." 


Ebenezer Webster had several sons. But at 
the time that he was appointed judge there were 


only two at home. The older ones were grown 
up and were doing for themselves. 

It was of the two at home that he was thinking 
when he said, "I am going to try to educate my 

Of the ten children in the family, the favorite' 
was a black-haired, dark-skinned little fellow 
called Daniel. He was the youngest of all the 
boys ; but there was one girl who was younger 
than he. 

Daniel Webster was born on the i8th of Jan- 
uary, 1782. 

He was a puny child, very slender and weak ; 
and the neighbors were fond of telling his mother 
that he could not live long. Perhaps this was 
one of the things that caused him to be favored 
and petted by his parents. 

But there were other reasons why every one 
was attracted by him. There were other reasons 
why his brothers and sisters were always ready 
to do him a service. 

He was an affectionate, loving child ; and he 
was wonderfully bright and quick. 

He was not strong enough to work on the farm 


like other boys. He spent much of his time play- 
ing in the woods or roaming among the hills. 

And when he was not at play he was quite sure 
to be found in some quiet corner with a book in 
his hand. He afterwards said of himself: "In 
those boyish days there were two things that I 
dearly loved reading and playing." 

He could never tell how or when he had learned 
to read. Perhaps his mother had taught him 
when he was but a mere babe. 

He was very young when he was first sent to 
school. The schoolhouse was two or three miles 
away, but he did not mind the long walk through 
the woods and over the hills. 

It was not a great while until he had learned 
all that his teacher was able to teach him ; for he 
had a quick understanding, and he remembered 
everything that he read. 

The people of the neighborhood never tired of 
talking about "Webster's boy," as they called him. 
All agreed that he was a wonderful child. 

Some said that so wonderful a child was sure 
to die young. Others said that if he lived he 
would certainly become a very great man. 


When the farmers, on their way to market, 
drove past Judge Webster's house, they were 
always glad if they could see the delicate boy, 
with his great dark eyes. 

If it was near the hour of noon, they would 
stop their teams under the shady elms and ask 
him to come out and read to them. Then, while 
their horses rested and ate, they would sit round 
the boy and listen to his wonderful tones as he 
read page after page from the Bible. 

There were no children's books in those times. 
Indeed, there were very few books to be had of 
any kind. But young Daniel Webster found 
nothing too hard to read. 

"I read what I could get to read," he after- 
wards said ; "I went to school when I could, 
and when not at school, was a farmer's youngest 
boy, not good for much for want of health and 
strength, but expected to do something." 

One day the man who kept the little store in 
the village, showed him something that made 
his heart leap. 

It was a cotton handkerchief with the Constitu- 
tion of the United States printed on one side of it. 


In those days people were talking a great deal 
about the Constitution, for it had just then come 
into force. 

Daniel had never read it. When he saw the 
handkerchief he could not rest till he had made 
it his own. 

He counted all his pennies, he borrowed a 
few from his brother Ezekiel. Then he hurried 
back to the store and bought the wished-for 

In a short time he knew everything in the Con- 
stitution, and could repeat whole sections of it 
from memory. We shall learn that, when he 
afterwards became one of the great men of this 
nation, he proved to be the Constitution's wisest 
friend and ablest defender. 


Ezekiel Webster was two years older than 
his brother Daniel. He was a strong, manly 
fellow, and was ready at all times to do a kind- 
ness to the lad who had not been gifted with so 
much health and strength. 

But he had not Daniel's quickness of mind, 


and he always looked to his younger brother 
for advice and instruction. 

And so there was much love between the two 
brothers, each helping the other according to his 
talents and his ability. 

One day they went together to the county fair. 
Each had a few cents in his pocket for spending- 
money, and both expected to have a fine time. 

When they came home in the evening Daniel 
seemed very happy, but Ezekiel was silent. 

"Well, Daniel," said their mother, "what did 
you do with your money ?" 

"I spent it at the fair," said Daniel. 

"And what did you do with yours, Ezekiel ?" 

"I lent it to Daniel," was the answer. 

It was this way at all times, and with every- 
body. Not only Ezekiel, but others were ever 
ready to give up their own means of enjoyment 
if only it would make Daniel happy. 

At another time the brothers were standing 
together by their father, who had just come home 
after several days' absence. 

"Ezekiel," said Mr. Webster, "what have you 
been doing since I went away ?" 


"Nothing, sir," said Ezekiel. 

"You are very frank," said the judge. Then 
turning to Daniel, he said : 

"What have you been doing, Dan ?" 

"Helping Zeke," said Daniel. 

When Judge Webster said to his neighbor, " I am 
going to try to educate my boys," he had no thought 
of ever being able to send both of them to college. 

Ezekiel, he said to himself, was strong and 
hearty. He could make his own way in the 
world without having a finished education. 

But Daniel had little strength of body, although 
he was gifted with great mental powers. It was 
he that must be the scholar of the family. 

The judge argued with himself that since he 
would be able to educate only one of the boys, 
he must educate that one who gave the greatest 
promise of success. And yet, had it not been 
for his poverty, he would gladly have given the 
same opportunities to both. 


One hot day in summer the judge and his young- 
est son were at work together in the hayfield. 


"Daniel," said the judge, "I am thinking that 
this kind of work is hardly the right thing for 
you. You must prepare yourself for greater 
things than pitching hay." 

"What do you mean, father?" asked Daniel. 

" I mean that you must have that which I have 
always felt the need of. You must have a good 
education ; for without an education a man is 
always at a disadvantage. If I had been able to 
go to school when I was a boy, I might have done 
more for my country than I have. But as it is, 
I can do nothing but struggle here for the means 
of living." 

"Zeke and I will help you, father," said Dan- 
iel ; " and now that you are growing old, you 
need not work so hard." 

"I am not complaining about the work," said 
the judge. "I live only for my children. When 
your older brothers were growing up I was too 
poor to give them an education ; but I am able 
now to do something for you, and I mean to send 
you to a good school." 

"Oh, father, how kind you are !" cried Daniel. 

"If you will study hard," said his father 


"if you will do your best, and learn all that you 
can, you will not have to endure such hardships 
as I have endured. And then you will be able 
to do so much more good in the world." 

The boy's heart was touched by the manner 
in which his father spoke these words. He 
dropped his rake ; he threw his arms around 
his father's neck, and cried for joy. 

It was not until the next spring that Judge 
Webster felt himself able to carry out his plans 
to send Daniel to school. 

One evening he said, "Daniel, you must be up 
early in the morning, I am going with you to 

"To Exeter ?" said the boy. 

"Yes, to Exeter. I am going to put you in 
the academy there." 

The academy at Exeter was then, as it still is, a 
famous place for preparing boys for college. But 
Daniel's father did not say anything about mak- 
ing him ready for college. The judge knew that 
the expenses would be heavy, and he was not 
sure that he would ever be able to give him a 
finished education. 


It was nearly fifty miles to Exeter, and Daniel 
and his father were to ride there on horseback. 
That was almost the only way of traveling in 
those days. 

The next morning two horses were brought to 
the door. One was Judge Webster's horse, the 
other was a gentle nag, with a lady's sidesaddle 
on his back. 

" Who is going to ride on that nag ? " asked Daniel. 

"Young Dan Webster," answered the judge. 

"But I don't want a sidesaddle. I am not a 

"Neighbor Johnson is sending the nag to Ex- 
eter for the use of a lady who is to ride back with 
me. I accommodate him by taking charge of 
the animal, and he accommodates me by allow- 
ing you to ride on it." 

"But won't it look rather funny for me to ride 
to Exeter on a lady's saddle ?" 

"If a lady can ride on it, perhaps Dan Web- 
ster can do as much." 

And so they set out on their journey to Exeter. 
The judge rode in advance, and Daniel, sitting 
astride of the lady's saddle, followed behind. 


It was, no doubt, a funny sight to see them rid- 
ing thus along the muddy roads. None of the 
country people who stopped to gaze at them 
could have guessed that the dark-faced lad who 
rode so awkwardly would some day become one 
of the greatest men of the age. 

It was thus that Daniel Webster made his first 
appearance among strangers. 


It was the first time that Daniel Webster had 
been so far from home. He was bashful and 
awkward. His clothes were of home-made stuff, 
and they were cut in the quaint style of the back- 
country districts. 

He must have been a funny-looking fellow. 
No wonder that the boys laughed when they saw 
him going up to the principal to be examined for 

The principal of the academy at that time was 
Dr. Benjamin Abbott. He was a great scholar 
and a very dignified gentleman. 

He looked down at the slender, black-eyed boy 
and asked : 


"What is your age, sir ?" 

"Fourteen years," said Daniel. 

" I will examine you first in reading. Take this 
Bible, and let me hear you read some of these 

He pointed to the twenty-second chapter of 
Saint Luke's Gospel. 

The boy took the book and began to read. He 
had read this chapter a hundred times before. 
Indeed, there was no part of the Bible that was 
not familiar to him. 

He read with a clearness and fervor which few 
men could equal. 

The dignified principal was astonished. He 
stood as though spellbound, listening to the rich, 
mellow tones of the bashful lad from among the 

In the case of most boys it was enough if he 
heard them read a verse or two. But he allowed 
Daniel Webster to read on until he had finished 
the chapter. Then he said : 

'There is no need to examine you further. 
You are fully qualified to enter this academy." 

Most of the boys at Exeter were gentlemen's 


sons. They dressed well, they had been taught 
fine manners, they had the speech of cultivated 

They laughed at the awkward, new boy. They 
made fun of his homespun coat ; they twitted 
him on account of his poverty ; they annoyed 
him in a hundred ways. 

Daniel felt hurt by this cruel treatment. He 
grieved bitterly over it in secret, but he did not 
resent it. 

He studied hard and read much. He was soon 
at the head of all his classes. His schoolmates 
ceased laughing at him ; for they saw that, with 
all his uncouth ways, he had more ability than 
any of them. 

He had, as I have said, a wonderful memory. 
He had also a quick insight and sound judgment. 

But he had had so little experience with the 
world, that he was not sure of his own powers. 
He knew that he was awkward ; and this made 
him timid and bashful. 

When it came his turn to declaim before the 
school, he had not the courage to do it. Long 
afterwards, when he had become the greatest 


orator of modern times, he told how hard this 
thing had been for him at Exeter : 

"Many a piece did I commit to memory, and 
rehearse in my room over and over again. But 
when the day came, when the school collected, 
when my name was called and I saw all eyes 
turned upon my seat, I could not raise myself 
from it. 

"Sometimes the masters frowned, sometimes 
they smiled. My tutor always pressed and en- 
treated with the most winning kindness that I 
would venture only once; but I could not com- 
mand sufficient resolution, and when the occa- 
sion was over I went home and wept tears of 
bitter mortification. " 

Daniel stayed nine months at Exeter. In those 
nine months he did as much as the other boys of 
his age could do in two years. 

He mastered arithmetic, geography, grammar, 

'and rhetoric. He also began the study of Latin. 

Besides this, he was a great reader of all kinds of 

books, and he added something every day to his 

general stock of knowledge. 

His teachers did not oblige him to follow a 


graded course of study. They did not hold him 
back with the duller pupils of his class. They 
did not oblige him to wait until the end of the 
year before he could be promoted or could begin 
the study of a new subject. 

But they encouraged him to do his best. As 
soon as he had finished one subject, he advanced 
to a more difficult one. 

More than fifty years afterwards, Dr. Abbott 
declared that in all his long experience he had 
never known any one whose power of gaining 
knowledge was at all equal to that of the bashful 
country lad from the New Hampshire hills. 

Judge Webster would have been glad to let 
Daniel stay at Exeter until he had finished the 
studies required at the academy. But he could 
not afford the expense. 

If he should spend all his money to keep the 
boy at the academy, how could he afterwards 
find the means to send him to college where the 
expenses would be much greater ? 

So he thought it best to find a private teacher 
for the boy. This would be cheaper. 



One day in the early winter, Judge Webster 
asked Daniel to ride with him to Boscawen. Bos- 
cawen was a little town, six miles away, where 
they sometimes went for business or for pleasure. 

Snow was on the ground. Father and son rode 
together in a little, old-fashioned sleigh ; and as 
they rode, they talked about many things. Just 
as they were going up the last hill, Judge Web- 
ster said : 

"Daniel, do you know the Rev. Samuel Wood, 
here in Boscawen ?" 

"I have heard of him," said Daniel. "He 
takes boys into his family, and gets them ready 
for college." 

'Yes, and he does it cheap, too," said his 
father. "He charges only a dollar a week for 
board and tuition, fuel and lights and every- 

" But they say he is a fine teacher," said Daniel. 
"His boys never fail in the college examinations." 

'That is what I have heard, too," answered 
his father. "And now, Dannie, I may as well 


tell you a secret. For the last six years I have 
been planning to have you take a course in Dart- 
mouth College. I want you to stay with Dr. 
Wood this winter, and he will get you ready to 
enter. We might as well go and see him now." 

This was the first time that Daniel had ever 
heard his father speak of sending him to college. 
His heart was so full that he could not say a 
word. But the tears came in his eyes as he 
looked up into the judge's stern, kind face. 

He knew that if his father carried out this plan, 
it would cost a great deal of money ; and if this 
money should be spent for him, then the rest of 
the family would have to deny themselves of 
many comforts which they might otherwise have. 

"Oh, never mind that, Dan," said his brother 
Ezekiel. "We are never so happy as when we 
are doing something for you. And we know 
that you will do something for us, some time." 

And so the boy spent the winter in Boscawen 
with Dr. Wood. He learned everything very 
easily, but he was not as close a student as he 
had been at Exeter. 

He was very fond of sport. He liked to go 


fishing. And sometimes, when the weather was 
fine, his studies were sadly neglected. 

There was a circulating library in Boscawen, 
and Daniel read every book that was in it. 
Sometimes he slighted his Latin for the sake of 
giving more time to such reading. 

One of the books in the library was Don Quixote. 
Daniel thought it the most wonderful story in 
existence. He afterwards said : 

"I began to read it, and it is literally true that 
I never closed my eyes until I had finished it, so 
great was the power of this extraordinary book 
on my imagination." 

But it was so easy for the boy to learn, that he 
made very rapid progress in all his studies. In 
less than a year, Dr. Wood declared that he was 
ready for college. 

He was then fifteen years old. He had a 
pretty thorough knowledge of arithmetic ; but 
he had never studied algebra or geometry. In 
Latin he had read four of Cicero's orations, and 
six books of Virgil's JEneid. He knew some- 
thing of the elements of Greek grammar, and 
had read a portion of the Greek Testament. 


Nowadays, a young man could hardly enter 
even a third-rate college without a better prep- 
aration than that. But colleges are much more 
thorough than they were a hundred years ago. 


Dartmouth College is at Hanover, New Hamp- 
shire. It is one of the oldest colleges in America 
and among its students have been many of the 
foremost men of New England. 

It was in the fall of 1797, that Daniel Webster 
entered this college. 

He was then a tall, slender youth, with high 
cheek bones and a swarthy skin. 

The professors soon saw that he was no com- 
mon lad. They said to one another, "This young 
Webster will one day be a greater man than any 
of us." 

And young Webster was well-behaved and 
studious at college. He was as fond of sport as 
any of the students, but he never gave himself 
up to boyish pranks. 

He was punctual and regular in all his classes. 
He was as great a reader as ever. 


He could learn anything that he tried. No 
other young man had a broader knowledge of 
things than he. 

And yet he did not make his mark as a student 
in the prescribed branches of study. He could 
not confine himself to the narrow routine of the 
college course. 

He did not, as at Exeter, push his way quickly 
to the head of his class. He won no prizes. 

"But he minded his own business," said one of 
the professors. ' v As steady as the sun, he pur- 
sued, with intense application, the great object 
tor which he came to college." 

Soon everybody began to appreciate his scholar- 
ship. Everybody admired him for his manliness 
and good common sense. 

"He was looked upon as being so far in ad- 
vance of any one else, that no other student of 
his class was ever spoken of as second to him." 

He very soon lost that bashfulness which had 
troubled him so much at Exeter. It was no task 
now for him to stand up and declaim before the 
professors and students. 

In a short time he became known as the best 


writer and speaker in the college. Indeed, he 
loved to speak ; and the other students were al- 
ways pleased to listen to him. 

One of his classmates tells us how he prepared 
his speeches. He says: "It was Webster's cus- 
tom to arrange his thoughts in his mind while 
he was in his room, or while he was walking alone. 
Then he would put them upon paper just before 
the exercise was to be called for. 

"If he was to speak at two o'clock, he would 
often begin to write after dinner ; and when the 
bell rang he would fold his paper, put it in his 
pocket, go in, and speak with great ease. 

"In his movements he was slow and deliberate, 
except when his feelings were aroused. Then 
his whole soul would kindle into a flame." 

In the year 1800, he was chosen to deliver thd 
Fourth of July address to the students of the 
college and the citizens of the town. He was 
then eighteen years old. 

The speech was a long one. It was full of the 
love of country. Its tone throughout was earn- 
est and thoughtful. 

But in its style it was overdone ; it was full of 


pretentious expressions ; it lacked the simplicity 
and good common sense that should mark all 
public addresses. 

And yet, as the speech of so young a man, it 
was a very able effort. People said that it was 
the promise of much greater things. And they 
were right. 

In the summer of 1801, Daniel graduated. 
But he took no honors. He was not even pres- 
ent at the Commencement. 

His friends were grieved that he had not been 
chosen to deliver the valedictory address. Per- 
haps he also was disappointed. But the profes- 
sors had thought best to give that honor to another 


While Daniel Webster was taking his course 
in college, there was one thing that troubled him 
very much. It was the thought of his brother 
Ezekiel toiling at home on the farm. 

He knew that Ezekiel had great abilities. He 
knew that he was not fond of the farm, but that 
he was anxious to become a lawyer. 


This brother had given up all his dearest plans 
in order that Daniel might be favored ; and 
Daniel knew that this was so. 

Once, when Daniel was at home on a vacation, 
he said, "Zeke, this thing is all wrong. Father 
has mortgaged the farm for money to pay my ex- 
penses at school, and you are making a slave of 
yourself to pay off the mortgage. It isn't right 
for me to let you do this." 

Ezekiel said, "Daniel, I am stronger than you 
are, and if one of us has to stay on the farm, of 
course I am the one." 

"But I want you to go to college," said Daniel. 
"An education will do you as much good as me." 

"I doubt it," said Ezekiel; "and yet, if father 
was only able to send us both, I think that we 
might pay him back some time." 

"I will see father about it this very day," said 

He did see him. 

"I told my father," said Daniel, afterwards, 
"that I was unhappy at my brother's prospects. 
For myself, I saw my way to knowledge, re- 
spectability, and self-protection. But as to Eze- 


kiel, all looked the other way. I said that I 
would keep school, and get along as well as I 
could, be more than four years in getting through 
college, if necessary, provided he also could be 
sent to study." 

The matter was referred to Daniel's mother, 
and she and his father talked it over together. 
They knew that it would take all the property 
they had to educate both the boys. They knew 
that they would have to do without many 
comforts, and that they would have a hard 
struggle to make a living while the boys were 

But the mother said, "I will trust the boys." 1 
And it was settled that Ezekiel, too, should have 
a chance to make his mark in the world. 

He was now a grown-up man. He was tall 
and strong and ambitious. He entered college 
the very year that Daniel graduated. 

As for Daniel, he was now ready to choose a 
profession. What should it be ? 

His father wanted him to become a lawyer. 
And so, to please his parents, he went home and 
began to read law in the office of a Mr. Thomp- 


son, in the little village of Salisbury, which ad- 
joined his father's farm. 

The summer passed by. It was very pleasant 
to have nothing to do but to read. And when 
the young man grew tired of reading, he could 
go out fishing, or could spend a day in hunting 
among the New Hampshire hills. 

It is safe to say that he did not learn very much 
law during that summer. 

But there was not a day that he did not think 
about his brother. Ezekiel had done much to 
help him through college, and now ought he not 
to help Ezekiel ? 

But what could he do ? 

He had a good education, and his first thought 
was that he might teach school, and thus earn a 
little money for Ezekiel. 

The people of Fryeburg, in Maine, wanted him 
to take charge of the academy in their little town. 
And so, early in the fall, he decided to take up 
with their offer. 

He was to have three hundred and fifty dollars 
for the year's work, and that would help Ezekiel 
a great deal. 


He bade good-bye to Mr. Thompson and his 
little law office, and made ready to go to his new 
field of labor. There were no railroads at that 
time, and a journey of even a few miles was a 
great undertaking. 

Daniel had bought a horse for twenty-four 
dollars. In one end of an old-fashioned pair of 
saddlebags he put his Sunday clothes, and in the 
other he packed his books. 

He laid the saddlebags upon the horse, then 
he mounted and rode off over the hills toward 
Fryeburg, sixty miles away. 

He was not yet quite twenty years old. He was 
very slender, and nearly six feet in height. His 
face was thin and dark. His eyes were black 
and bright and penetrating no person who once 
saw them could ever forget them. 

Young as he was, he was very successful as a 
teacher during that year which he spent at Frye- 
burg. The trustees of the academy were so highly 
pleased that they wanted him to stay a second 
year. They promised to raise his salary to five 
or six hundred dollars, and to give him a house 
and a piece of land. 


He was greatly tempted to give up all further 
thoughts of becoming a lawyer. 

"What shall I do ?" he said to himself. "Shall 
I say, 'Yes, gentlemen,' and sit down here to 
spend my days in a kind of comfortable privacy ?" 

But his father was anxious that he should re- 
turn to the study of the law. And so he was 
not long in making up his mind. 

In a letter to one of his friends he said: "I 
shall make one more trial of the law in the ensuing 

"If I prosecute the profession, I pray God to 
fortify me against its temptations. To be honest, 
to be capable, to be faithful to my client and my 

Early the next September, he was again in Mr. 
Thompson's little law office. All the money that 
he had saved, while at Fryeburg, was spent to 
help Ezekiel through college. 


For a year and a half, young Daniel Webster 
stayed in the office of Mr. Thompson. He had 
now fully made up his mind as to what profes- 


sion he would follow ; and so he was a much 
better student than he had been before. 

He read many law books with care. He read 
Hume's History of England, and spent a good 
deal of time with the Latin classics. 

"At this period of my life," he afterwards said. 
"I passed a great deal of time alone. 

"My amusements were fishing and shooting 
and riding, and all these were without a compan- 
ion. I loved this solitude then, and have loved 
it ever since, and love it still." 

The Webster family were still very poor. 
Judge Webster was now too old to do much work 
of any kind. The farm had been mortgaged for 
all that it was worth. It was hard to find money 
enough to keep Daniel at his law studies and 
Ezekiel in college. 

At last it became necessary for one of the 
young men to do something that would help 
matters along. Ezekiel decided that he would 
leave college for a time and try to earn enough 
money to meet the present needs of the family. 
Through some of his friends he obtained a small 
private school in Boston. 


There were very few pupils in Ezekiel Web- 
ster's school. But there were so many branches 
to be taught that he could not find time to hear 
all the recitations. So, at last, he sent word to 
Daniel to come down and help him. If Daniel 
would teach an hour and a half each day, he 
should have enough money to pay his board. 

Daniel was pleased with the offer. He had 
long wanted to study law in Boston, and here 
was his opportunity. And so, early in March, 
1804, he joined his brother in that city, and was 
soon doing what he could to help him in his little 

There was in Boston, at that time, a famous law- 
yer whose name was Christopher Gore. While 
Daniel Webster was wondering how he could 
best carry on his studies in the city, he heard 
that Mr. Gore had no clerk in his office. 

"How I should like to read law with Mr 
Gore !" he said to Ezekiel. 

"Yes," said Ezekiel. "You could not want a 
better tutor." 

"I mean to see him to-day and apply for a 
place in his office," said Daniel. 


It was with many misgivings that the young 
man went into the presence of the great lawyer. 
We will let him tell the story in his own words : 

"I was from the country, I said ; had studied 
law for two years ; had come to Boston to study 
a year more ; had heard that he had no clerk ; 
thought it possible he would receive one. 

"I told him that I came to Boston to work, 
not to play ; was most desirous, on all accounts, 
to be his pupil ; and all I ventured to ask at pres- 
ent was, that he would keep a place for me in 
his office, till I could write to New Hampshire for 
proper letters showing me worthy of it." 

Mr. Gore listened to this speech very kindly, 
and then bade Daniel be seated while he should 
have a short talk with him. 

When at last the young man rose to go, Mr. 
Gore said: "My young friend, you look as if 
you might be trusted. You say you came to 
study and not to waste time. I will take you at 
your word. You may as well hang up your hat 
at once." 

And this was the beginning of Daniel Web- 
ster's career in Boston. 


He must have done well in Mr. Gore's office ; 
for, in a few months, he was admitted to the prac- 
tice of law in the Court of Common Pleas in 

It was at some time during this same winter that 
Daniel was offered the position of clerk in the 
County Court at home. His father, as you will 
remember, was one of the judges in this court, 
and he was very much delighted at the thought 
that his son would be with him. 

The salary would be about fifteen hundred 
dollars a year and that was a great sum to 
Daniel as well as to his father. The mortgage 
on the farm could be paid off ; Ezekiel could 
finish his course in college ; and life would be 
made easier for them all. 

At first Daniel was as highly pleased as his 
father. But after he had talked with Mr. Gore, 
he decided not to accept the offered position. 

'Your prospects as a lawyer," said Mr. Gore, 
''are good enough to encourage you to go on. 
Go on, and finish your studies. You are poor 
enough, but there are greater evils than poverty. 
Live on no man's favor. Pursue your profession ; 


make yourself useful to your friends and a little 
formidable to your enemies, and you have noth- 
ing to fear." 

A few days after that, Daniel paid a visit to 
his father. The judge received him very kindly, 
but he was greatly disappointed when the young 
man told him that he had made up his mind not 
to take the place. 

With his deep-set, flashing eyes, he looked at 
his son for a moment as though in anger. Then 
he said, very slowly : 

" Well, my son, your mother has always said 
that you would come to something or nothing - 
she was not sure which. I think you are now 
about settling that doubt for her." 

A few weeks after this, Daniel, as I have al- 
ready told you, was admitted to the bar in Boston. 
But he did not think it best to begin his practice 

He knew how anxious his father was that he 
should be near him. He wanted to do all that he 
could to cheer and comfort the declining years 
of the noble man who had sacrificed everything 
for him. And so, in the spring of 1805, he set- 


tied in the town of Boscawen, six miles from 
home, and put up at his office door this sign : 

D. WEBSTER, Attorney 


When Daniel Webster had been in Boscawen 
nearly two years, his father died. It was then 
decided that Ezekiel should come and take charge 
of the home farm, and care for their mother. 

Ezekiel had not yet graduated from college, 
but he had read law and was hoping to be ad- 
mitted to the bar. He was a man of much nat- 
ural ability, and many people believed that he 
would some day become a very famous lawyer. 

And so, in the autumn of 1807, Daniel gave up 
to his brother the law business which he had in 
Boscawen, and removed to the city of Portsmouth. 

He was now twenty-five years old. In Ports- 
mouth he would find plenty of work to do ; it 
would be the very kind of work that he liked. 
He was now well started on the road toward 

The very next year, he was married to Miss 


Grace Fletcher, the daughter of a minister in 
Hopkinton. The happy couple began house- 
keeping in a small, modest, wooden house, in 
Portsmouth ; and there they lived, very plainly 
and without pretension, for several years. 

Mr. Webster's office was "a common, ordinary- 
looking room, with less furniture and more books 

'than common. He had a small inner room, 
opening from the larger, rather an unusual thing." 
It was not long until the name of Daniel Web- 
ster was known all over New Hampshire. Those 
who were acquainted with him said that he was 
the smartest young lawyer in Portsmouth. They 
said that if he kept on in the way that he had 
started, there were great things in store for him. 

The country people told wonderful stories 
about him. They said he was as black as a 
coal --but of course they had never seen him. 
They believed that he could gain any case in 

, court that he chose to manage and in this they 
were about right. 

There was another great lawyer in Portsmouth. 
His name was Jeremiah Mason, and he was much 
older than Mr. Webster. Indeed, he was already 


a famous man when Daniel first began the prac- 
tice of law. 

The young lawyer and the older one soon be- 
came warm friends ; and yet they were often op- 
posed to each other in the courts. Daniel was 
always obliged to do his best when Mr. Mason 
was against him. This caused him to be very 
careful. It no doubt made him become a better 
lawyer than he otherwise would have been. 

While Webster was thus quietly practicing 
law in New Hampshire, trouble was brewing be- 
tween the United States and England. The 
English were doing much to hinder American 
merchants from trading with foreign countries. 

They claimed the right to search American 
vessels for seamen who had deserted from the 
British service. And it is said that American 
sailors were often dragged from their own vessels 
and forced to serve on board the English ships. 

Matters kept getting worse and worse for sev- 
eral years. At last, in June, 1812, the United 
States declared war against England. 

Daniel Webster was opposed to this war, and 
he made several speeches against it. He said 


that, although we had doubtless suffered many 
wrongs, there was more cause for war with France 
than with England. And then, the United States 
had no navy, and hence was not ready to go to 
war with any nation. 

Webster's influence in New Hampshire was so 
great that he persuaded many of the people of 
that state to think just as he thought on this 
subject. They nominated him as their represent- 
ative in Congress ; and when the time came, 
they elected him. 

It was on the 24th of May, 1813, that he first 
took his seat in, Congress. He was then thirty- 
one years old. 

In that same Congress there were two other 
young men who afterwards made their names 
famous in the history of their country. One was 
Henry Clay, of Kentucky. The other was John 
C. Calhoun, of South Carolina. Both were a 
little older than Webster ; both had already 
made some mark in public life ; and both were in 
favor of the war. 

During his first year in Congress, Mr. Web- 
ster made some stirring speeches in support of 


his own opinions. In this way, as well by his 
skill in debate, he made himself known as a 
young man of more than common ability and 

Chief Justice Marshall, who was then at the 
head of the Supreme Court of the United States, 
said of him : " I have never seen a man of whose 
intellect I had a higher opinion." 

In 1814, the war that had been going on so 
long came to an end. But now there were other 
subjects which claimed Mr. Webster's attention 
in Congress. 

Then, as now, there were important questions 
regarding the money of the nation ; and upon 
these questions there was great difference of 
opinion. Daniel Webster's speeches, in favor of a 
sound currency, did much to maintain the national 
credit and to save the country from bankruptcy. 

The people of New Hampshire were so well 
pleased with the record which he made in Con- 
gress that, when his first term expired, they re- 
elected him for a second. 



In 1816, before his second term in Congress 
had expired, Daniel Webster removed with his 
family to Boston. He had lived in Portsmouth 
nine years, and he now felt that he needed a 
wider field for the exercise of his talents. 

He was now no longer the slender, delicate 
person that he had been in his boyhood and 
youth. He was a man of noble mien a sturdy, 
dignified personage, who bore the marks of great- 
ness upon him. People said, "When Daniel 
Webster walked the streets of Boston, he made 
the buildings look small." 

As soon as his term in Congress had expired, 
he began the practice of law in Boston. 

For nearly seven years he devoted himself 
strictly to his profession. Of course, he at once 
took his place as the leading lawyer of New Eng- 
land. Indeed, he soon became known as the 
ablest counselor and advocate in America. 

The best business of the country now came to 
him. His income was very large, amounting to 
more than $20,000 a year. 


And during this time there was no harder 
worker than he. In fact, his natural genius could 
have done but little for him, had it not been for 
his untiring industry. 

One of his first great victories in law was that 
which is known as the Dartmouth College case. 
The lawmakers of New Hampshire had attempted 
to pass a law to alter the charter of the college. 
By doing this they would endanger the useful- 
ness and prosperity of that great school, in order 
to favor the selfish projects of its enemies. 

Daniel Webster undertook to defend the college. 
The speech which he made before the Supreme 
Court of the United States was a masterly effort. 

"Sir," he said, "you may destroy this little in- 
stitution --it is weak, it is in your hands. I know 
it is one of the lesser lights in the literary horizon 
of our country. You may put it out. 

" But if you do so, you must carry through 
your work ! You must extinguish, one after an- 
other, all those greater lights of science which, 
for more than a century, have thrown their light 
over our land !" 

He won the case ; and this, more than any- 


thing else, helped to gain for him the reputation 
of being the ablest lawyer in the United States. 


In 1820, when he was thirty-eight years old, 
Daniel Webster was chosen to deliver an oration 
at a great meeting of New Englanders at Plym- 
outh, Massachusetts. 

Plymouth is the place where the Pilgrims 
landed in 1620. Just two hundred years had 
passed since that time, and this meeting was to 
celebrate the memory of the brave men and 
women who had risked so much to found new 
homes in what was then a bleak wilderness. 

The speech which Mr. Webster delivered was one 
of the greatest ever heard in America. It placed 
him at once at the head of American orators. 

John Adams, the second President of the 
United States, was then living, a very old man. 
He said, "This oration will be read five hundred 
years hence with as much rapture as it was heard. 
It ought to be read at the end of every century, 
and, indeed, at the end of every year, forever 
and ever." 


But this was only the first of many great ad- 
dresses by Mr. Webster. In 1825, he delivered 
an oration at the laying of the corner stone of 
the Bunker Hill monument. Eighteen years 
later, when that monument was finished, he 
delivered another. Many of Mr. Webster's 
admirers think that these two orations are his 

On July 4th, 1826, the United States had been 
independent just fifty years. On that day there 
passed away two of the greatest men of the 
country - - John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. 

Both were ex-Presidents, and both had been 
leaders in the councils of the nation. It was in 
memory of these two patriots that Daniel Web- 
ster was called to deliver an oration in Faneuil 
Hall, Boston. 

No other funeral oration has ever been deliv- 
ered in any age or country that was equal to 
this in eloquence. Like all his other discourses, 
it was full of patriotic feeling. 

'This lovely land," he said, "this glorious lib- 
erty, these benign institutions, the dear purchase 
of our fathers, are ours ; ours to enjoy, ours to 


preserve, ours to transmit. Generations past and 
generations to come hold us responsible for this 
sacred trust. 

"Our fathers, from behind, admonish us with 
their anxious, paternal voices ; posterity calls out 
to us from the bosom of the future ; the world 
turns hither its solicitous eyes ; all, all conjure us 
to act wisely and faithfully in the relation which 
we sustain." 

Most of his other great speeches were deliv- 
ered in Congress, and are, therefore, political in 
tone and subject. 

Great as Daniel Webster was in politics and 
in law, it is as an orator and patriot that his 
name will be longest remembered. 


When Daniel Webster was forty years old, the 
people of Boston elected him to represent them 
in Congress. They were so well pleased with all 
that he did while there, that they reflected him 

In June, 1827, the legislature of Massachusetts 
chose him to be United States senator for a term 


of six years. He was at that time the most 
famous man in Massachusetts, and his name 
was known and honored in every state of the 

After that he was reflected to the same place 
again and again ; and for more than twenty years 
he continued to be the distinguished senator from 

I cannot now tell you of all his public services 
during the long period that he sat in Congress. 
Indeed, there are some things that you would 
find hard to understand until you have learned 
more about the history of our country. But you 
will by-and-by read of them in the larger books 
which you will study at school ; and, no doubt, 
you will also read some of his great addresses 
and orations. 

It was in 1830 that he delivered the most fa- 
mous of all his speeches in the senate chamber of 
the United States. This speech is commonly 
called, "The Reply to Hayne." 

I shall not here try to explain the purport of 
Mr. Hayne's speeches for there were two of 
them. I shall not try to describe the circum- 


stances which led Mr. Webster to make his fa- 
mous reply to them. 

But I will quote Mr. Webster's closing sen- 
tences. Forty years ago the schoolboys all over 
the country were accustomed to memorize and 
declaim these patriotic utterances. 

"When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for 
the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see 
him shining on the broken and dishonored frag- 
ments of a once glorious Union ; on states dis- 
severed, discordant, belligerent, on a land rent 
with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fra- 
ternal blood ! 

"Let their last feeble and lingering glance 
rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the repub- 
lic, now known and honored throughout the 
earth, still high advanced, its arms and trophies 
streaming in their original luster, not a stripe 
erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, 
bearing for its motto no such miserable interrog- 
atory, 'What is all this worth ?' nor those other 
words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty first and 
Union afterwards;' but everywhere, spread all 
over in characters of living light, blazing on all 


its folds, as they float over the land, and in every 
wind under the whole heavens, that other senti- 
ment, dear to every American heart Liberty 
and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable !" 

In 1841, Daniel Webster resigned his seat in 
the senate. He did this in order to become sec- 
retary of state in the cabinet of the newly elected 
President, William Henry Harrison. 

But President Harrison died on the 5th of 
April, after having held his office just one month ; 
and his place was taken by the vice-president, 
John Tyler. Mr. Webster now felt that his po- 
sition in the cabinet would not be a pleasant one ; 
but he continued to hold it for nearly two years. 

His most important act as secretary of state 
was to conclude a treaty with England which 
fixed the northeastern boundary of the United 
States. This treaty is known in history as the 
Ashburton Treaty. 

In 1843, Mr. Webster resigned his place in 
President Tyler's cabinet. But he was not al- 
lowed to remain long in private life. Two years 
later he was again elected to the United States 


About this time, Texas was annexed to the 
United States. But Mr. Webster did not favor 
this, for he believed that such an act was con- 
trary to the Constitution of our country. 

He did all that he could to keep our government 
from making war upon Mexico. But after this 
war had been begun, he was a firm friend of the 
soldiers who took part in it, and he did much to 
provide for their safety and comfort. 

Among these soldiers was Edward, the second 
son of Daniel Webster. He became a major in 
the main division of the army, and died in the 
City of Mexico. 


Let us now go back a little way in our story, 
and learn something about Mr. Webster's home 
and private life. 

In 1831, Mr. Webster bought a large farm at 
Marshfield, in the southeastern part of Massachu- 
setts, not far from the sea. 

He spent a great deal of money in improving this 
farm ; and in the end it was as fine a country seat 
as one might see anywhere in New England. 


When he became tired with the many cares of 
his busy life, Mr. Webster could always find rest 
and quiet days at Marshfield. He liked to dress 
himself as a farmer, and stroll about the fields 
looking at the cattle and at the growing crops. 

"I had rather be here than in the senate," he 
would say. 

But his life was clouded with many sorrows. 
Long before going to Marshfield, his two eldest 
children were laid in the grave. Their mother 
followed them . just one year before Mr. Web- 
ster's first entry into the United States senate. 

In 1829, his brother Ezekiel died suddenly 
while speaking in court at Concord. Ezekiel had 
never cared much for politics, but as a lawyer in 
his native state, he had won many honors. His 
death came as a great shock to everybody that 
knew him. To his brother it brought overwhelm- 
ing sorrow. 

When Daniel Webster was nearly forty-eight 
years old, he married a second wife. She was the 
daughter of a New York merchant, and her name 
was Caroline Bayard Le Roy. She did much to 
lighten the disappointments of his later life, and 


they lived together happily for more than twenty 

In 1839, Mr. and Mrs. Webster made a short 
visit to England. The fame of the great orator 
had gone before him, and he was everywhere re- 
ceived with honor. The greatest men of the time 
were proud to meet him. 

Henry Hallam, the historian, wrote of him : 
"Mr. Webster approaches as nearly to the beau 
ideal of a republican senator as any man that I 
have ever seen in the course of my life." 

Even the Queen invited him to dine with her ; 
and she was much pleased with his dignified 
ways and noble bearing. 

And, indeed, his appearance was such as to 
win the respect of all who saw him. When he 
walked the streets of London, people would stop 
and wonder who the noble stranger was ; and 
workingmen whispered to one another: 'There 
goes a king !" 


Many people believed that Daniel Webster 
would finally be elected President of the United 


States. And, indeed, there was no man in all 
this country who was better fitted for that high 
position than he. 

But it so happened that inferior men, who were 
willing to stoop to the tricks of politics, always 
stepped in before him. 

In the meanwhile the question of slavery was 
becoming, every day, more and more important. 
It was the one subject which claimed everybody's 

Should slavery be allowed in the territories ? 

There was great excitement all over the country. 
There were many hot debates in Congress. It 
seemed as though the Union would be destroyed. 

At last, the wiser and cooler-headed leaders in 
Congress said, "Let each side give up a little to 
the other. Let us have a compromise." 

On the yth of March, 1850, Mr. Webster de- 
livered a speech before the senate. It was a 
speech in favor of compromise, in favor of con- 

He thought that this was the only way to pre- 
serve the Union. And he was willing to sacrifice 
everything for the Constitution and the Union. 


He declared that all the ends he aimed at were 
for his country's good. 

"I speak to-day for the preservation of the 
Union," he said. "Hear me for my cause! I 
speak to-day out of a solicitous and anxious 
heart, for the restoration to the country of that 
quiet and harmony, which make the blessings 
of this Union so rich and so dear to us all." 

He then went on to defend the law known as 
the Fugitive Slave Law. He declared that this 
law was in accordance with the Constitution, 
and hence it should be enforced according to its 
true meaning. 

The speech was a great disappointment to his 
friends. They said that he had deserted them ; that 
he had gone over to their enemies ; that he was 
no longer a champion of freedom, but of slavery. 

Those who had been his warmest supporters, 
now turned against him. 

A few months after this, President Taylor died. 
The vice-president, Millard Fillmore, then be- 
came President. Mr. Fillmore was in sympathy 
with Daniel Webster, and soon gave him a seat 
in his cabinet as secretary of state. 


This was the second time that Mr. Webster 
had been called to fill this high and honorable 
position. But, under President Fillmore, he did 
no very great or important thing. 

He was still the leading man in the Whig 
party; and he hoped, in 1852, to be nominated 
for the presidency. But in this he was again 

He was now an old man. He had had great 
successes in life ; but he felt that he had failed 
at the end of the race. His health was giving 
way. He went home to Marshfield for the quiet 
and rest which he so much needed. 

In May, that same year, he was thrown from 
his carriage and severely hurt. From this hurt 
he never recovered. He offered to resign his 
seat in the cabinet, but Mr. Fillmore would not 
listen to this. 

In September he became very feeble, and his 
friends knew that the end was near. On the 
24th of October, 1852, he died. He was nearly 
seventy-one years old. 

In every part of the land his death was sin- 
cerely mourned. Both friends and enemies felt 


that a great man had fallen. They felt that this 
country had lost its leading statesman, its noblest 
patriot, its worthiest citizen. 

Rufus Choate, who had succeeded him as the 
foremost lawyer in New England, delivered a 
great oration upon his life and character. He 
said : 

"Look in how manly a sort, in how high a 
moral tone, Mr. Webster uniformly dealt with 
the mind of his country. 

"Where do you find him flattering his coun- 
trymen, indirectly or directly, for a vote ? On 
what did he ever place himself but good counsels 
and useful service ? 

"Who ever heard that voice, cheering the 
people on to rapacity, to injustice, to a vain and 
guilty glory ? 

"How anxiously, rather, did he prefer to teach, 
that by all possible acquired sobriety of mind, 
by asking reverently of the past, by obedience 
to the law, by habits of patient labor, by the cul- 
tivation of the mind, by the fear and worship of 
God, we educate ourselves for the future that is 




Not far from Hodgensville, in Kentucky, there 
once lived a man whose name was Thomas Lin- 
coln. This man had built for himself a little log 
cabin by the side of a brook, where there was an 
ever-flowing spring of water. 

There was but one room in this cabin. On the 
side next to the brook there was a low doorway ; 
and at one end there was a large fireplace, built 
of rough stones and clay. 

The chimney was very broad at the bottom 
and narrow at the top. It was made of clay, 
with flat stones and slender sticks laid around 
the outside to keep it from falling apart. 

In the wall, on one side of the fireplace, there 
was a square hole for a window. But there was 
no glass in this window. In the summer it was 



left open all the time. In cold weather a deer- 
skin, or a piece of coarse cloth, was hung over 
it to keep out the wind and the snow. 

At night, or on stormy days, the skin of a 
bear was hung across the doorway ; for there was 
no door on hinges to be opened and shut. 

There was no ceiling to the room. But the 
inmates of the cabin, by looking up, could see the 
bare rafters and the rough roof-boards, which 
Mr. Lincoln himself had split and hewn. 

There was no floor, but only the bare ground 
that had been smoothed and beaten until it was 
as level and hard as pavement. 

For chairs there were only blocks of wood and 
a rude bench on one side of the fireplace. The 
bed was a little platform of poles, on which were 
spread the furry skins of wild animals, and a 
patchwork quilt of homespun goods. 

In this poor cabin, on the I2th of February, 
1809, a baby boy was born. There was already 
one child in the family a girl, two years old, 
whose name was Sarah. 

The little boy grew and became strong like 
other babies, and his parents named him Abra- 


ham, after his grandfather, who had been killed 
by the Indians many years before. 

When he was old enough to run about, he liked 
to play under the trees by the cabin door. Some- 
times he would go with his little sister into the 
woods and watch the birds and the squirrels. 

He had no playmates. He did not know the 
meaning of toys or playthings. But he was a 
happy child and had many pleasant ways. 

Thomas Lincoln, the father, was a kind-hearted 
man, very strong and brave. Sometimes he 
would take the child on his knee and tell him 
strange, true stories of the great forest, and of 
the Indians and the fierce beasts that roamed 
among the woods and hills. 

For Thomas Lincoln had always lived on the 
wild frontier ; and he would rather hunt deer 
and other game in the forest than do anything 
else. Perhaps this is why he was so poor. 
Perhaps this is why he was content to live in 
the little log cabin with so few of the comforts 
of life. 

But Nancy Lincoln, the young mother, did not 
complain. She, too, had grown up among the 


rude scenes of the backwoods. She had never 
known better things. 

And yet she was by nature refined and gentle ; 
and people who knew her said that she was very 
handsome. She was a model housekeeper, too ; 
and her poor log cabin was the neatest and best- 
kept house in all that neighborhood. 

No woman could be busier than she. She 
knew how to spin and weave, and she made all 
the clothing for her family. 

She knew how to wield the ax and the hoe ; 
and she could work on the farm or in the garden 
when her help was needed. 

She had also learned how to shoot with a rifle ; 
and she could bring down a deer or other wild 
game with as much ease as could her husband. 
And when the game was brought home, she 
could dress it, she could cook the flesh for food, 
and of the skins she could make clothing for her 
husband and children. 

There was still another thing that she could 
do she could read ; and she read all the books 
that she could get hold of. She taught her hus- 
band the letters of the alphabet ; and she showed 


him how to write his name. For Thomas Lin- 
coln had never gone to school, and he had never 
learned how to read. 

As soon as little Abraham Lincoln was old 
enough to understand, his mother read stories to 
him from the Bible. Then, while he was still 
very young, she taught him to read the stories 
for himself. 

The neighbors thought it a wonderful thing 
that so small a boy could read. There were very 
few of them who could do as much. Few of them 
thought it of any great use to learn how to read. 

There were no schoolhouses in that part of 
Kentucky in those days, and of course there 
were no public schools. 

One winter a traveling schoolmaster came 
that way. He got leave to use a cabin not far 
from Mr. Lincoln's, and gave notice that he 
would teach school for two or three weeks. The 
people were too poor to pay him for teaching 

The name of this schoolmaster was Zachariah 

The young people for miles around flocked to 


the school. Most of them were big boys and 
girls, and a few were grown up young men. The 
only little child was Abraham Lincoln, and he 
was not yet five years old. 

There was only one book studied at that school, 
and it was a spelling book. It had some easy 
reading lessons at the end, but these were not 
to be read until after every word in the book had 
been spelled. 

You can imagine how the big boys and girls 
felt when Abraham Lincoln proved that he could 
spell and read better than any of them. 


In the autumn, just after Abraham Lincoln 
was eight years old, his parents left their Ken- 
tucky home and moved to Spencer county, in 

It was not yet a year since Indiana had become 
a state. Land could be bought very cheap, and 
Mr. Lincoln thought that he could make a good 
living there for his family. He had heard also 
that game was plentiful in the Indiana woods. 

It was not more than seventy or eighty miles 


from the old home to the new. But it seemed 
very far, indeed, and it was a good many days 
before the travelers reached their journey's end. 
Over a part of the way there was no road, and 
the movers had to cut a path for themselves 
through the thick woods. 

The boy, Abraham, was tall and very strong 
for his age. He already knew how to handle an 
ax, and few men could shoot with a rifle better 
than he. He was his father's helper in all kinds 
of work. 

It was in November when the family came to 
the place which was to be their future home. 
Winter was near at hand. There was no house, 
nor shelter of any kind. What would become of 
the patient, tired mother, and the gentle little 
sister, who had borne themselves so bravely dur- 
ing the long, hard journey ? 

No sooner had the horses been loosed from 
the wagon than Abraham and his father were at 
work with their axes. In a short time they had 
built what they called a "camp." 

This camp was but a rude shed, made of poles 
and thatched with leaves and branches. It was 


enclosed on three sides, so that the chill wind* 
or the driving rains from the north and west could 
not enter. The fourth side was left open, and in 
front of it a fire was built. 

This fire was kept burning all the time. It 
warmed the interior of the camp. A big iron 
kettle was hung over it by means of a chain and 
pole, and in this kettle the fat bacon, the venison, 
the beans, and the corn were boiled for the 
family's dinner and supper. In the hot ashes 
the good mother baked luscious "corn dodgers," 
and sometimes, perhaps, a few potatoes. 

In one end of the camp were the few cooking 
utensils and little articles of furniture which even 
the poorest house cannot do without. The rest 
of the space was the family sitting room and 
bedroom. The floor was covered with leaves, 
and on these were spread the furry skins of deer 
and bears, and other animals. 

It was in this camp that the family spent their 
first winter in Indiana. How very cold and 
dreary that winter must have been ! Think of 
the stormy nights, of the shrieking wind, of the 
snow and the sleet and the bitter frost ! It is 


not much wonder if, before the spring months 
came, the mother's strength began to fail. 

But it was a busy winter for Thomas Lincoln. 
Every day his ax was heard in the woods. He 
was clearing the ground, so that in the spring it 
might be planted with corn and vegetables. 

He was hewing logs for his new house ; for he 
had made up his mind, now, to have something 
better than a cabin. 

The woods were full of wild animals. It was 
easy for Abraham and his father to kill plenty 
of game, and thus keep the family supplied with 
fresh meat. 

And Abraham, with chopping and hewing 
and hunting and trapping, was very busy for a 
little boy. He had but little time to play ; and, 
since he had no playmates, we cannot know 
whether he even wanted to play. 

With his mother, he read over and over the 
Bible stories which both of them loved so well. 
And, during the cold, stormy days, when he 
could not leave the camp, his mother taught him 
how to write. 

In the spring the new house was raised. It 


was only a hewed log house, with one room be- 
low and a loft above. But it was so much better 
than the old cabin in Kentucky that it seemed 
like a palace. 

The family had become so tired of living in 
the "camp," that they moved into the new house 
before the floor was laid, or any door hung at 
the doorway. 

Then came the plowing and the planting and 
the hoeing. Everybody was busy from day- 
light to dark. There were so many trees and 
stumps that there was but little room for the 
corn to grow. 

The summer passed, and autumn came. Then 
the poor mother's strength gave out. She could 
no longer go about her household duties. She 
had to depend more and more upon the help 
that her children could give her. 

At length she became too feeble to leave her 
bed. She called her boy to her side. She put 
her arms about him and said: "Abraham, I am 
going away from you, and you will never see me 
again. I know that you will always be good 
and kind to your sister and father. Try to live 


as I have taught you, and to love your heavenly 

On the 5th of October she fell asleep, never to 
wake again. 

Under a big sycamore tree, half a mile from 
the house, the neighbors dug the grave for the 
mother of Abraham Lincoln. And there they 
buried her in silence and great sorrow. 

There was no minister there to conduct reli- 
gious services. In all that new country there was 
no church ; and no holy man could be found to 
speak words of comfort and hope to the grieving 
ones around the grave. 

But the boy, Abraham, remembered a travel- 
ing preacher, whom they had known in Ken- 
tucky. The name of this preacher was David 
Elkin. If he would only come ! 

And so, after all was over, the lad sat down 
and wrote a letter to David Elkin. He was only 
a child nine years old, but he believed that the 
good man would remember his poor mother, and 

It was no easy task to write a letter. Paper 
and ink were not things of common use, as they 


are with us. A pen had to be made from the 
quill of a goose. 

But at last the letter was finished and sent 
away. How it was carried I do not know; for 
the mails were few and far between in those 
days, and the postage was very high. It is more 
than likely that some friend, who was going into 
Kentucky, undertook to have it finally handed 
to the good preacher. 

Months passed. The leaves were again on the 
trees. The wild flowers were blossoming in the 
woods. At last the preacher came. 

He had ridden a hundred miles on horseback ; 
he had forded rivers, and traveled through path- 
less woods ; he had dared the dangers of the wild 
forest : all in answer to the lad's beseeching letter. 

He had no hope of reward, save that which 
is given to every man who does his duty. He 
did not know that there would come a time when 
the greatest preachers in the world would envy 
him his sad task. 

And now the friends and neighbors gathered 
again under the great sycamore tree. The fu- 
neral sermon was preached. Hymns were sung. 


A prayer was offered. Words of comfort and 
sympathy were spoken. 

From that time forward the mind of Abraham 
Lincoln was rilled with a high and noble pur- v 
pose. In his earliest childhood his mother had 
taught him to love truth and justice, to be honest 
and upright among men, and to reverence God. 
These lessons he never forgot. 

Long afterward, when he was known as a very 
great man, he said: "All that I am, or hope 
to be, I owe to my angel mother." 


The log house, which Abraham Lincoln called 
his home, was now more lonely and cheerless 
than before. The sunlight of his mother's pres- 
ence had gone out of it forever. 

His sister Sarah, twelve years old, was the 
housekeeper and cook. His father had not yet 
found time to lay a floor in the house, or to hang 
a door. There were great crevices between the 
logs, through which the wind and the rain drifted 
on every stormy day. There was not much com- 
fort in such a house. 


But the lad was never idle. In the long win- 
ter days, when there was no work to be done, he 
spent the time in reading or in trying to improve 
his writing. 

There were very few books in the cabins of 
that backwoods settlement. But if Abraham 
Lincoln heard of one, he could not rest till he 
had borrowed it and read it. 

Another summer passed, and then another 
winter. Then, one day, Mr. Lincoln went on a 
visit to Kentucky, leaving his two children and 
their cousin, Dennis Hanks, at home to care for 
the house and the farm. 

I do not know how long he stayed away, but 
it could not have been many weeks. One eve- 
ning, the children were surprised to see a four- 
horse wagon draw up before the door. 

Their father was in the wagon ; and by his 
side was a kind-faced woman ; and, sitting on 
the straw at the bottom of the wagon-bed, there 
were three well-dressed children two girls and 
a boy. 

And there were some grand things in the 
wagon, too. There were six split-bottomed 


chairs, a bureau with drawers, a wooden chest, 
and a feather bed. All these things were very 
wonderful to the lad and lassie who had never 
known the use of such luxuries. 

"Abraham and Sarah," said Mr. Lincoln, as he 
leaped from the wagon, "I have brought you a 
new mother and a new brother and two new 

The new mother greeted them very kindly, 
and, no doubt, looked with gentle pity upon 
them. They were barefooted ; their scant cloth- 
ing was little more than rags and tatters ; they 
did not look much like her own happy children, 
whom she had cared for so well. 

And now it was not long until a great change 
was made in the Lincoln home. A floor was 
laid, a door was hung, a window was made, the 
crevices between the logs were daubed with clay. 

The house was furnished in fine style, with the 
chairs and the bureau and the feather bed. The 
kind, new mother brought sunshine and hope 
into the place that had once been so cheerless. 

With the young lad, Dennis Hanks, there were 
now six children in the family. But all were 


treated with the same motherly care. And so, in 
the midst of much hard work, there were many 
pleasant days for them all. 


Not very long after this, the people of the 
neighborhood made up their minds that they 
must have a schoolhouse. And so, one day 
after harvest, the men met together and chopped 
down trees, and built a little low-roofed log cabin 
to serve for that purpose. 

If you could see that cabin you would think it 
a queer kind of schoolhouse. There was no 
floor. There was only one window, and in it 
were strips of greased paper pasted across, in- 
stead of glass. There were no desks, but only 
rough benches made of logs split in halves. In 
one end of the room was a huge fireplace ; at the 
other end was the low doorway. 

The first teacher was a man whose name was 
Azel Dorsey. The term of school was very 
short ; for the settlers could not afford to pay 
him much. It was in midwinter, for then there 
was no work for the big boys to do at home. 


And the big boys, as well as the girls and the 
smaller boys, for miles around, came in to learn 
what they could from Azel Dorsey. The most 
of the children studied only spelling ; but some 
of the larger ones learned reading and writing 
and arithmetic. 

There were not very many scholars, for the 
houses in that new settlement were few and far 
apart. School began at an early hour in the 
morning, and did not close until the sun was 

Just how Abraham Lincoln stood in his classes 
I do not know ; but I must believe that he stud- 
ied hard and did everything as well as he could. 
In the arithmetic which he used, he wrote these 
lines : 

"Abraham Lincoln, 
His hand and pen, 
He will be good, 
But God knows when." 

In a few weeks, Azel Dorsey's school came to 
a close ; and Abraham Lincoln was again as 
busy as ever about his father's farm. After that 
he attended school only two or three short terms. 


If all his school days were put together they 
would not make a twelve-month. 

But he kept on reading and studying at home. 
His stepmother said of him: "He read every- 
thing he could lay his hands on. When he came 
across a passage that struck him, he would write 
it down on boards, if he had no paper, and keep 
it until he had got paper. Then he would copy 
it, look at it, commit it to memory, and repeat it." 

Among the books that he read were the Bible, 
the Pilgrim's Progress, and the poems of Robert 
Burns. One day he walked a long distance to 
borrow a book of a farmer. This book was 
Weems's Life of Washington. He read as much 
as he could while walking home. 

By that time it was dark, and so he sat down 
by the chimney and read by fire light until bed- 
time. Then he took the book to bed with him 
in the loft, and read by the light of a tallow 

In an hour the candle burned out. He laid 
the book in a crevice between two of the logs of 
the cabin, so that he might begin reading again 
as soon as it was daylight. 


But in the night a storm came up. The rain 
was blown in, and the book was wet through 
and through. 

In the morning, when Abraham awoke, he saw 
what had happened. He dried the leaves as well 
as he could, and then finished reading the book. 

As soon as he had eaten his breakfast, he hur- 
ried to carry the book to its owner. He ex- 
plained how the accident had happened. 

"Mr. Crawford," he said, "I am willing to pay 
you for the book. I have no money ; but, if you 
will let me, I will work for you until I have made 
its price." 

Mr. Crawford thought that the book was 
worth seventy-five cents, and that Abraham's 
work would be worth about twenty-five cents a 
day. And so the lad helped the farmer gather 
corn for three days, and thus became the owner 
of the delightful book. 

He read the story of Washington many times 
over. He carried the book with him to the field, 
and read it while he was following the plow. 

From that time, Washington was the one great 
hero whom he admired. Why could not he 


model his own life after that of Washington ? 
Why could not he also be a doer of great things 
for his country ? 


Abraham Lincoln now set to work with a will 
to educate himself. His father thought that he 
did not need to learn anything more. He did 
not see that there was any good in book-learning. 
If a man could read and write and cipher, what 
more was needed ? 

But the good stepmother thought differently ; 
and when another short term of school began in 
the little log schoolhouse, all six of the children 
from the Lincoln cabin were among the scholars. 

In a few weeks, however, the school had closed ; 
and the three boys were again hard at work, 
chopping and grubbing in Mr. Lincoln's clear- 
ings. They were good-natured, jolly young fel- 
lows, and they lightened their labor with many 
a joke and playful prank. 

Many were the droll stories with which Abra- 
ham amused his two companions. Many were 
the puzzling questions that he asked. Some- 


times in the evening, with the other five children 
around him, he would declaim some piece that 
he had learned ; or he would deliver a speech 
of his own on some subject of common interest. 

If you could see him as he then appeared, you 
would hardly think that such a boy would ever 
become one of the most famous men of history. 
On his head he wore a cap made from the skin 
of a squirrel or a raccoon. Instead of trousers 
of cloth-, he wore buckskin breeches, the legs of 
which were many inches too short. His shirt 
was of deerskin in the winter, and of homespun 
tow in the summer. Stockings he had none. 
His shoes were of heavy cowhide, and were worn 
only on Sundays or in very cold weather. 

The family lived in such a way as to need very 
little money. Their bread was made of corn 
meal. Their meat was chiefly the flesh of wild 
game found in the forest. 

Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used 
on the table. The tea and coffee cups were of 
painted tin. There was no stove, and all the 
cooking was done on the hearth of the big 


But poverty was no hindrance to Abraham 
Lincoln. He kept on with his reading and his 
studies as best he could. Sometimes he would 
go to the little village of Gentryville, near by, to 
spend an evening. He would tell so many jokes 
and so many funny stories, that all the people 
would gather round him to listen. 

When he was sixteen years old he went one 
day to Booneville, fifteen miles away, to attend 
a trial in court. He had never been in court be- 
fore. He listened with great attention to all that 
was said. When the lawyer for the defense 
made his speech, the youth was so full of delight 
that he could not contain himself. 

He arose from his seat, walked across the court 
room, and shook hands with the lawyer. "That 
was the best speech I ever heard," he said. 

He was tall and very slim ; he was dressed in 
a jeans coat and buckskin trousers ; his feet 
were bare. It must have been a strange sight to 
see him thus complimenting an old and practiced 

From that time, one ambition seemed to fill 
his mind. He wanted to be a lawyer and make 


great speeches in court. He walked twelve miles 
barefooted, to borrow a copy of the laws of In- 
diana. Day and night he read and studied. 

"Some day I shall be President of the United 
States," he said to some of his young friends. 
And this he said not as a joke, but in the firm 
belief that it would prove to be true. 


One of Thomas Lincoln's friends owned a 
ferryboat on the Ohio River. It was nothing 
but a small rowboat, and would carry only three 
or four people at a time. This man wanted to 
employ some one to take care of his boat and 
to ferry people across the river. 

Thomas Lincoln was in need of money ; and 
so he arranged with his friend for Abraham to do 
this work. The wages of the young man were 
to be $2.50 a week. But all the money was to be 
his father's. 

One day two strangers came to the landing. 
They wanted to take passage on a steamboat 
that was coming down the river. The ferry-boy 
signaled to the steamboat and it stopped in mid- 


stream. Then the boy rowed out with the two 
passengers, and they were taken on board. 

Just as he was turning towards the shore again, 
each of the strangers tossed a half-dollar into his 
boat. He picked the silver up and looked at it. 
Ah, how rich he felt ! He had never had so much 
money at one time. And he had gotten all for 
a few minutes' labor ! 

When winter came on, there were fewer people 
who wanted to cross the river. So, at last, the 
ferryboat was tied up, and Abraham Lincoln 
went back to his father's home. 

He was now nineteen years old. He was very 
tall nearly six feet four inches in height. He 
was as strong as a young giant. He could jump 
higher and farther, and he could run faster, than 
any of his fellows ; and there was no one, far or 
near, who could lay him on his back. 

Although he had always lived in a community 
of rude, rough people, he had no bad habits. He 
used no tobacco ; he did not drink strong liquor ; 
no profane word ever passed his lips. 

He was good-natured at all times, and kind to 
every one. 


During that winter, Mr. Gentry, the store- 
keeper in the village, had bought a good deal of 
Corn and pork. He intended, in the spring, to 
load this on a flatboat and send it down the river 
to New Orleans. 

In looking about for a captain to take charge 
of the boat, he happened to think of Abraham 
Lincoln. He knew that he could trust the young 
man. And so a bargain was soon made. Abra- 
ham agreed to pilot the boat to New Orleans 
and to market the produce there ; and Mr. Gen- 
try was to pay his father eight dollars and a half 
a month for his services. 

As soon as the ice had well melted from the 
river, the voyage was begun. Besides Captain 
Lincoln there was only one man in the crew, and 
that was a son of Mr. Gentry's. 

The voyage was a long and weary one, but at 
last the two boatmen reached the great southern 
city. Here they saw many strange things of 
which they had never heard before. But they 
soon sold their cargo and boat, and then returned 
home on a steamboat. 

To Abraham Lincoln the world was now very 


different from what it had seemed before. He 
longed to be away from the narrow life in the 
woods of Spencer county. He longed to be doing 
something for himself - - to be making for him- 
self a fortune and a name. 

But then he remembered his mother's teach- 
ings when he sat on her knee in the old 
Kentucky home, "Always do right." He 
remembered her last words, "I know you will 
be kind to your father." 

And so he resolved to stay with his father, to 
work for him, and to give him all his earnings 
until he was twenty-one years old. 


Early in the spring of 1830, Thomas Lincoln 
sold his farm in Indiana, and the whole family 
moved to Illinois. The household goods were 
put in a wagon drawn by four yoke of oxen. 
The kind stepmother and her daughters rode 
also in the wagon. 

Abraham Lincoln, with a long whip in his hand, 
trudged through the mud by the side of the road 
and guided the oxen. Who that saw him thus 


going into Illinois would have dreamed that he 

would in time become that state's greatest citizen ? 

The journey was a long and hard one ; but in 

two weeks they reached Decatur, where they 

had decided to make their new home. 

Abraham Lincoln was now over twenty-one 

years old. He was his own man. But he stayed 
with his father that spring. He helped him 
fence his land ; he helped him plant his corn. 

But his father had no money to give him. 
The young man's clothing was all worn out, and 
he had nothing with which to buy any more. 
What should he do ? 

Three miles from his father's cabin there lived 
a thrifty woman, whose name was Nancy Miller. 
Mrs. Miller owned a flock of sheep, and in her 
house there were a spinning-wheel and a loom 
that were always busy. And so you must know 
that she wove a great deal of jeans and home- 
made cloth. 

Abraham Lincoln bargained with this woman 
to make him a pair of trousers. He agreed that 
for each yard of cloth required, he would split for 
her four hundred rails. 


He had to split fourteen hundred rails in all ; 
but he worked so fast that he had finished them 
before the trousers were ready. 

The next April saw young Lincoln piloting an- 
other flatboat down the Mississippi to New Or- 
leans. His companion this time was his mother's 
relative, John Hanks. This time he stayed longer 
in New Orleans, and he saw some things which 
he had barely noticed on his first trip. 

He saw gangs of slaves being driven through 
the streets. He visited the slave-market, and 
saw women and girls sold to the highest bidder 
like so many cattle. 

The young man, who would not be unkind to 
any living being, was shocked by these sights. 
"His heart bled; he was mad, thoughtful, sad, 
and depressed." 

He said to John Hanks, "If I ever get a 
chance to hit that institution, I'll hit it hard, 

He came back from New Orleans in July. Mr. 
Offut, the owner of the flatboat which he had 
taken down, then employed him to act as clerk 
in a country store which he had at New Salem. 


New Salem was a little town not far from 

Young Lincoln was a good salesman, and all 
the customers liked him. Mr. Offut declared 
that the young man knew more than any one else 
in the United States, and that he could outrun 
and outwrestle any man in the county. 

But in the spring of the next year Mr. Offut 
failed. The store was closed, and Abraham Lin- 
coln was out of employment again. 


There were still a good many Indians in the 
West. The Sac Indians had lately sold their 
lands in northern Illinois to the United States. 
They had then moved across the Mississippi 
River, to other lands that had been set apart for 

But they did not like their new home. At last 
they made up their minds to go back to their 
former hunting-grounds. They were led by a 
chief whose name was Black Hawk ; and they 
began by killing the white settlers and burning 
their houses and crops. 


This was in the spring of 1832. 

The whole state of Illinois was in alarm. The 
governor called for volunteers to help the United 
States soldiers drive the Indians back. 

Abraham Lincoln enlisted. His company elected 
him captain. 

He did not know anything about military tac- 
tics. He did not know how to give orders to his 
men. But he did the best that he could, and 
learned a great deal by experience. 

His company marched northward and west- 
ward until they came to the Mississippi River. 
But they did not meet any Indians, and so there 
was no fighting. 

The young men under Captain Lincoln were 
rude fellows from the prairies and backwoods. 
They were rough in their manners, and hard 
to control. But they had very high respect for 
their captain. 

Perhaps this was because of his great strength, 
and his skill in wrestling ; for he could put the 
roughest and strongest of them on their backs. 
Perhaps it was because he was good-natured and 
kind, and, at the same time, very firm and decisive. 


In a few weeks the time for which the com- 
pany had enlisted came to an end. The young 
men were tired of being soldiers ; and so all, ex- 
cept Captain Lincoln and one man, were glad to 
hurry home. 

But Captain Lincoln never gave up anything 
half done. He enlisted again. This time he 
was a private in a company of mounted 

The main camp of the volunteers and soldiers 
was on the banks of the Rock River, in northern 
Illinois. , 

Here, one day, Abraham Lincoln saw a young 
lieutenant of the United States army, whose 
name was Jefferson Davis. It is not likely 
that the fine young officer noticed the rough-clad 
ranger ; but they were to know more of each 
other at a future time. 

Three weeks after that the war was at an end. 
The Indians had been beaten in a battle, and 
Black Hawk had been taken prisoner. 

But Abraham Lincoln had not been in any 
fight. He had not seen any Indians, except 
peaceable ones. 


In June his company was mustered out, and 
he returned home to New Salem. 

He was then twenty-three years old. 


When Abraham Lincoln came back to New 
Salem it was nearly time for the state election. 
The people of the town and neighborhood wanted 
to send him to the legislature, and he agreed to 
be a candidate. 

It was at Pappsville, twelve miles from Spring- 
field, that he made his first campaign speech. 

He said: "Gentlemen and fellow-citizens 

"I presume you all know who I am. 

"I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been 
solicited by my friends to become a candidate 
for the legislature. 

"My politics are short and sweet. 

" I am in favor of a national bank ; am in favor 
of the internal improvement system, and a high 
protective tariff. 

'These are my sentiments and political prin- 
ciples. If elected, I shall be thankful ; if not, it 
will be all the same." 


He was a tall, gawky, rough-looking fellow. 
He was dressed in a coarse suit of homespun, 
much the worse for wear. 

A few days after that, he made a longer and 
better speech at Springfield. 

But he was not elected. 

About this time a worthless fellow, whose 
name was Berry, persuaded Mr. Lincoln to help 
him buy a store in New Salem. Mr. Lincoln 
had no money, but he gave his notes for the 
value of half the goods. 

The venture was not a profitable one. In a 
few months the store was sold ; but Abraham 
did not receive a dollar for it. It was six years 
before he was able to pay off the notes which he 
had given. 

During all this time Mr. Lincoln did not give 
up the idea of being a lawyer. He bought a 
second-hand copy of Blackstone's Commentaries 
at auction. He studied it so diligently that in 
a few weeks he had mastered the whole of it. 

He bought an old form-book, and began to 
draw up contracts, deeds, and all kinds of legal 


He would often walk to Springfield, fourteen 
miles away, to borrow a book ; and he would 
master thirty or forty pages of it while returning 

Soon he began to practice in a small way be- 
fore justices of the peace and country juries. 
He was appointed postmaster at New Salem, but 
so little mail came to the place that the office 
was soon discontinued. 

He was nearly twenty-five years old. But, 
with all his industry, he could hardly earn money 
enough to pay for his board and clothing. 

He had learned a little about surveying while 
living in Indiana. He now took up the study 
again, and was soon appointed deputy surveyor 
of Sangamon county. 

He was very skillful as a surveyor. Although 
his chain was only a grapevine, he was very ac- 
curate and never made mistakes. 

The next year he was again a candidate for 
the legislature. This time the people were ready 
to vote for him, and he was elected. It was no 
small thing for so young a man to be chosen to 
help make the laws of his state. 


No man ever had fewer advantages than 
Abraham Lincoln. As a boy, he was the poorest 
of the poor. No rich friend held out a helping 
hand. But see what he had already accom- 
plished by pluck, perseverance, and honesty ! 

He had not had access to many books, but he 
knew books better than most men of his age. 
He knew the Bible by heart ; he was familiar 
with Shakespeare ; he could repeat nearly all the 
poems of Burns ; he knew much about physics 
and mechanics ; he had mastered the elements 
of law. 

He was very awkward and far from handsome, 
but he was so modest, so unselfish and kind, that 
every one who knew him liked him. He was a 
true gentleman a gentleman at heart, if not in 
outside polish. 

And so, as I have already said, Abraham Lin- 
coln, at the age of twenty-five, was elected to the 
state legislature. He served the people so well 
that when his term closed, two years later, they 
sent him back for another term. 

The capital of Illinois had, up to this time, 
been at Vandalia. Mr. Lincoln and his friends 


now succeeded in having a law passed to re- 
move it to Springfield. Springfield was nearer 
to the center of the state ; it was more conven- 
ient to everybody, and had other advantages 
which Vandalia did not have. 

The people of Springfield were so delighted 
that they urged Mr. Lincoln to come there and 
practice law. An older lawyer, whose name was 
John T. Stuart, and who had a good practice, 
offered to take him in partnership with him. 

And so, in 1837, Abraham Lincoln left New 
Salem and removed to Springfield. He did not 
have much to move. All the goods that he had 
in the world were a few clothes, which he car- 
ried in a pair of saddlebags, and two or three 
law books. He had no money, and he rode into 
Springfield on a borrowed horse. 

He was then twenty-eight years old. 

From that time on, Springfield was his home. 


The next year after his removal to Springfield, 
Mr. Lincoln was elected to the legislature for the 
third time. 


There were then, in this country, two great 
political parties, the Democrats and the Whigs. 
Mr. Lincoln was a Whig, and he soon became 
the leader of his party in the state. But the 
Whigs were not so strong as the Democrats. 

The legislature was in session only a few weeks 
each year ; and so Mr. Lincoln could devote ah 1 
the rest of the time to the practice of law. There 
were many able lawyers in Illinois ; but Abe 
Lincoln of Springfield soon made himself known 
among the best of them. 

In 1840, he was again elected to the legislature. 
This was the year in which General William 
H. Harrison was elected President of the United 
States. General Harrison was a Whig ; and 
Mr. Lincoln's name was on the Whig ticket as 
a candidate for presidential elector in his state. 

The presidential campaign was one of the 
most exciting that had ever been known. It 
was called the "log cabin" campaign, because 
General Harrison had lived in a log cabin, and 
his opponents had sneered at his poverty. 

In the East as well as in the West, the excite- 
ment was very great. In every city and town 


and village, wherever there was a political meet- 
ing, a log cabin was seen. On one side of the 
low door hung a long-handled gourd ; on the 
other side, a coon-skin was nailed to the logs ; 
the blue smoke curled up from the top of the 
stick-and-clay chimney. 

You may believe that Abraham Lincoln went 
into this campaign with all his heart. He trav- 
eled over a part of the state, making stump- 
speeches for his party. 

One of his ablest opponents was a young law- 
yer, not quite his' own age, whose name was 
Stephen A. Douglas. In many places, during 
this campaign, Lincoln and Douglas met in pub- 
lic debate upon the questions of the day. And 
both of them were so shrewd, so well informed, 
and so eloquent, that those who heard them were 
unable to decide which was the greater of the 

General Harrison was elected, but not through 
the help of Mr. Lincoln ; for the vote of Illinois 
that year was for the Democratic candidate. 

In 1842, when he was thirty-three years old, 
Mr. Lincoln was married to Miss Mary Todd, a 


young lady from Kentucky, who had lately come 
to Springfield on a visit. 

For some time after their marriage, Mr. and 
Mrs. Lincoln lived in a hotel called the "Globe 
Tavern," paying four dollars a week for rooms 
and board. But, in 1844, Mr. Lincoln bought a 
small, but comfortable frame house, and in this 
they lived until they went to the White House, 
seventeen years later. 

Although he had been successful as a young 
lawyer, Mr. Lincoln was still a poor man. But 
Mrs. Lincoln said: "I would rather have a good 
man, a man of mind, with bright prospects for suc- 
cess and power and fame, than marry one with all 
the horses and houses and gold in the world." 


In 1846, Mr. Lincoln was again elected to the 

In the following year the people of his district 
chose him to be their representative in Congress. 
He took his seat in December. He was then 
thirty-nine years old. He was the only Whig 
from Illinois. 


There were many famous men in Congress at 
that time. Mr. Lincoln's lifelong rival, Stephen 
A. Douglas, was one of the senators from Illinois. 
He had already served a term or two in the house 
of representatives. J 

Daniel Webster was also in the senate ; and so 
was John C. Calhoun ; and so was Jefferson Davis. 

Mr. Lincoln took an active interest in all the 
subjects that came before Congress. He made 
many speeches. But, perhaps, the most impor- 
tant thing that he did at this time was to propose 
a bill for the abolition of the slave-trade in the 
city of Washington. 

He believed that slavery was unjust to the 
slave and harmful to the nation. He wanted to 
do what he could to keep it from becoming a 
still greater evil. But the bill was opposed so 
strongly that it was not even voted upon. 

After the close of Mr. Lincoln's term in Con- 
gress, he hoped that President Taylor, who was 
a Whig, might appoint him to a good office. 
But in this he was disappointed. 

And so, in 1849, he returned to his home in Spring- 
field, and again settled down to the practice of law. 


He was then forty years old. Considering the 
poverty of his youth, he had done great things 
for himself. But he had not done much for his 
country. Outside of his own state his name was 
still unknown. 

His life for the next few years was like that of 
any other successful lawyer in the newly-settled 
West. He had a large practice, but his fees 
were very small. His income from his profession 
was seldom more than $2,000 a year. 

His habits were very simple. He lived com- 
fortably and respectably. In his modest little 
home there was an air of order and refinement, 
but no show of luxury. 

No matter where he might go, Mr. Lincoln 
would have been known as a Western man. He 
was. six feet four inches in height. His face was 
very homely, but very kind. 

He was cordial and friendly in his manners. 
There was something about him which made 
everybody feel that he was a sincere, truthful, 
upright man. He was known among his neigh- 
bors as "Honest Abe Lincoln.' 1 



The great subject before the country at this 
time was slavery. It had been the cause of trouble 
for many years. 

In the early settlement of the American colo- 
nies, slavery had been introduced through the in- 
fluence of the English government. The first 
slaves had been brought to Virginia nearly 240 
years before the time of which I am telling you. 

Many people saw from the beginning that it 
was an evil which would at some distant day 
bring disaster upon the country. In 1772, the 
people of Virginia petitioned the King of Eng- 
land to put a stop to the bringing of slaves from 
Africa into that colony. But the petition was 
rejected ; and the King forbade them to speak of 
the matter any more. 

Washington, Jefferson, and other founders of 
our nation looked upon slavery as an evil. They 
hoped that the time might come when it would 
be done away with ; for they knew that the 
country would prosper better without it. 

At the time of the Revolution, slavery was per- 


mitted in all the states. But it was gradually 
abolished, first in Pennsylvania and then in the 
New England states, and afterwards in New 

In 1787, a law was passed by Congress declar- 
ing that there should be no slavery in the terri- 
tory northwest of the river Ohio. This was the 
territory from which the states of Ohio, Indiana, 
Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were formed ; 
and so, of course, these states were free states 
from the beginning. 

The great industry of the South was cotton- 
raising. The people of the Southern states 
claimed that slavery was necessary, because only 
negro slaves could do the work required on the 
big cotton plantations. Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were admit- 
ted, one by one, into the Union ; and all were 
slave states. 

In 1821, Missouri applied for admission into the 
Union. The South wanted slavery in this state 
also, but the North objected. There were many 
hot debates in Congress over this question. At 
last, through the influence of Henry Clay, the 


dispute was settled by what has since been known 
as the Missouri Compromise. 

The Missouri Compromise provided that Mis- 
souri should be a slave state ; this was to satisfy 
the South. On the other hand, it declared that 
all the western territory north of the line which 
formed the southern boundary of Missouri, should 
forever be free ; this was to appease the North. 

But the cotton planters of the South grew more 
wealthy by the labor of their slaves. More territory 
was needed for the extension of slavery. Texas 
joined the United States and became a slave state. 

Then followed a war with Mexico ; and Cali- 
fornia, New Mexico, and Utah were taken from 
that country. Should slavery be allowed in these 
new territories also ? 

At this time a new political party was formed. 
It was called the "Free Soil Party," and the 
principle for which it contended was this: "No 
more slave states and no slave territory." 

This party was not very strong at first, but 
soon large numbers of Whigs and many northern 
Democrats, who did not believe in the extension 
of slavery, began to join it. 


Although the Whig party refused to take any 
position against the extension of slavery, there 
were many anti-slavery Whigs who still remained 
with it and voted the Whig ticket and one of 
these men was Abraham Lincoln. 

The contest between freedom and slavery be- 
came more fierce every day. At last another 
compromise was proposed by Henry Clay. 

This compromise provided that California 
should be admitted as a free state ; that slavery 
should not be prohibited in New Mexico and 
Utah ; that there should be no more markets for 
slaves in the District of Columbia ; and that a 
new and very strict fugitive-slave law should be 

This compromise is called the "Compromise 
of 1850." It was in support of these measures 
that Daniel Webster made his last great speech. 

It was hoped by Webster and Clay that the 
Compromise of 1850 would put an end to the 
agitation about slavery. "Now we shall have 
peace," they said. But the agitation became 
stronger and stronger, and peace seemed farther 
away than ever before. 


In 1854, a bill was passed by Congress to or- 
ganize the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. 
This bill provided that the Missouri Compromise 
should be repealed, and that the question of 
slavery in these territories should be decided by 
the people living in them. 

The bill was passed through the influence of 
Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. There was now 
no bar to the extension of slavery into any of 
the territories save that of public opinion. 

The excitement all over the North was very 
great. In Kansas there was actual war between 
those who favored slavery and those who op- 
posed it. Thinking men in all parts of the coun- 
try saw that a great crisis was at hand. 


It was then that Abraham Lincoln came for- 
ward as the champion of freedom. 

Stephen A. Douglas was a candidate for re- 
election to the senate, and he found it necessary 
to defend himself before the people of his state 
for the part he had taken in repealing the Mis- 
souri Compromise. He went from one city to 


another, making speeches ; and at each place 
Abraham Lincoln met him in joint debate. 

"I do not care whether slavery is voted into 
or out of the territories," said Mr. Douglas. 
"The question of slavery is one of climate. 
Wherever it is to the interest of the inhabitants 
of a territory to have slave property, there a 
slave law will be enacted." 

But Mr. Lincoln replied, "The men who signed 
the Declaration of Independence said that all 
men are created equal, and are endowed by their 
Creator with certain inalienable rights life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ... I 
beseech you, do not destroy that immortal em- 
blem of humanity, the Declaration of Independ- 

At last, Mr. Douglas felt that he was beaten. 
He proposed that both should go home, and that 
there should be no more joint discussions. Mr. 
Lincoln agreed to this ; but the words which 
he had spoken sank deep into the hearts of those 
who heard them. 

The speeches of Lincoln and Douglas were 
printed in a book. People in all parts of the 


country read them. They had heard much about 
Stephen A. Douglas. He was called "The Little 
Giant." He had long been famous among the 
politicians of the country. It was believed that 
he would be the next President of the United 

But who was this man Lincoln, who had so 
bravely vanquished the Little Giant ? He was 
called "Honest Abe." There were few people 
outside of his state who had ever heard of him 

Mr. Douglas returned to his seat in the United 
States senate. Mr. Lincoln became the acknowl- 
edged leader of the forces opposed to the exten- 
sion of slavery. 

In May, 1856, a convention of the people of 
Illinois was held in Bloomington, Illinois. It 
met for the purpose of forming a new political 
party, the chief object and aim of which should 
be to oppose the extension of slavery into the 

Mr. Lincoln made a speech to the members of 
this convention. It was one of the greatest 
speeches ever heard in this country. "Again 


and again, during the delivery, the audience 
sprang to their feet, and, by long-continued 
cheers, expressed how deeply the speaker had 
roused them." 

And so the new party was organized. It was 
composed of the men who had formed the old 
Free Soil Party, together with such Whigs and 
Democrats as were opposed to the further growth 
of the slave power. But the greater number of 
its members were Whigs. This new party was 
called the Republican Party. 

In June, the Republican Party held a national 
convention at Philadelphia, and nominated John 
C. Fremont for President. But the party was 
not strong enough to carry the election that year. 

In that same month the Democrats held a con- 
vention at Cincinnati. Every effort was made 
to nominate Stephen A. Douglas for President. 
But he was beaten in his own party, on account 
of the action which he had taken in the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise. 

James Buchanan was nominated in his stead, 
and, in November, was elected. 

And so the conflict went on. 


In the year 1858 there was another series of 
joint debates between Lincoln and Douglas. 
Both were candidates for the United States sen- 
ate. Their speeches were among the most re- 
markable ever delivered in any country. 

Lincoln spoke for liberty and justice. Doug- 
las's speeches were full of fire and patriotism. 
He hoped to be elected President in 1860. In the 
end, it was generally acknowledged that Lincoln 
had made the best arguments. But Douglas was 
reelected to the senate. 


In 1860 there were four candidates for the 

The great Democratic Party was divided into 
two branches. One branch nominated Stephen 
A. Douglas. The other branch, which included 
the larger number of the slave-owners of the 
South, nominated John C. Breckinridge, of 

The remnant of the old Whig Party, now 
called the "Union Party," nominated John Bell, 
of Tennessee. 


The Republican Party nominated Abraham 

In November came the election, and a majority 
of all the electors chosen were for Lincoln. 

The people of the cotton-growing states be- 
lieved that, by this election, the Northern people 
intended to deprive them of their rights. They 
believed that the anti-slavery people intended to 
do much more than prevent the extension of 
slavery. They believed that the abolitionists 
were bent upon passing laws to deprive them of 
their slaves. 

Wild rumors were circulated concerning the 
designs which the "Black Republicans," as they 
were called, had formed for their coercion and 
oppression. They declared that they would never 

And so, in December, the people of South Car- 
olina met in convention, and declared that that 
state had seceded from the Union --that they, 
would no longer be citizens of the United States. 
One by one, six other states followed ; and they 
united to form a new government, called the 
Confederate States of America. 


It had long been held by the men of the South 
that a state had the right to withdraw from the 
Union at any time. This was called the doctrine 
of States' Rights. 

The Confederate States at once chose Jeffer- 
son Davis for their President, and declared them- 
selves free and independent. 

In February, Mr. Lincoln went to Washington 
to be inaugurated. His enemies openly boasted 
that he should never reach that city alive ; and 
a plot was formed to kill him on his passage 
through Baltimore. But he took an earlier train 
than the one appointed, and arrived at the capital 
in safety. 

On the 4th of March he was inaugurated. In 
his address at that time he said : "In your hands, 
my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine, 
is the momentous issue of civil war. Your gov- 
ernment will not assail you. You can have no 
conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. 
You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy 
the government ; while I shall have the most 
solemn one to protect and defend it." 

The Confederate States demanded that the 


government should give up all the forts, arsenals, 
and public property within their limits. This, 
President Lincoln refused to do. He said that 
he could not admit that these states had with- 
drawn from the Union, or that they could with- 
draw without the consent of the people of the 
United States, given in a national convention. 

And so, in April, the Confederate guns were 
turned upon Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, 
and the war was begun. President Lincoln 
issued a call for 75,000 men to serve in the army 
for three months ; and both parties prepared for 
the great contest. 

It is not my purpose to give a history of that ter- 
rible war of four years. The question of slavery 
was now a secondary one. The men of one party 
were determined, at whatever hazard, to preserve 
the Union. The men of the other party fought to 
defend their doctrine of States' Rights, and to 
set up an independent government of their own. 

President Lincoln was urged to use his power 
and declare all the slaves free. He answered : 

"My paramount object is to save the Union, 
and not either to save or destroy slavery. 


"If I could save the Union without freeing 
any slave, I would do it. If I could save it by 
freeing all the slaves, I would do it. If I could 
save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, 
I would also do that." 

At last, however, when he saw that the success 
of the Union arms depended upon his freeing 
the slaves, he decided to do so. On the ist of 
January, 1863, he issued a proclamation declaring 
that the slaves, in all the states or parts of states 
then in rebellion, should be free. More than three 
millions of colored people were given their freedom. 

But the war still went on. It reached a turn- 
ing point, however, at the battle of Gettysburg, 
in July, that same year. From that time the 
cause of the Confederate States was on the wane. 
Little by little the patriots, who were struggling 
for the preservation of the Union, prevailed. 


At the close of Mr. Lincoln's first term, he was 
again elected President of the United States. 
The war was still going on, but the Union arms 
were now everywhere victorious. 


His second inaugural address was very short. 
He did not boast of any of his achievements ; 
he did not rejoice over the defeat of his enemies. 
But he said : 

"With malice toward none; with charity for 
all ; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to 
see the right, let us strive on to finish the work 
we are in ; to bind up the nation's wounds ; to 
care for him who shall have borne the battle, 
and for his widow and his orphan to do all 
which may achieve and cherish a just and last- 
ing peace among ourselves and with all nations." 

Five weeks after that, on the 9th of April, 
1865, the Confederate army surrendered, and the 
war was at an end. 

Abraham Lincoln's work was done. 

The I4th of April was Good Friday. On the 
evening of that day, Mr. Lincoln, with Mrs. Lin- 
coln and two or three friends, visited Ford's 
Theater in Washington. 

At a few minutes past 10 o'clock, an actor 
whose name was John Wilkes Booth, came into 
the box where Mr. Lincoln sat. No one saw 
him enter. He pointed a pistol at the President's 


head, and fired. He leaped down upon the stage, 
shouting " Sic semper tyrannis ! The South is 
avenged !" Then he ran behind the scenes and 
out by the stage door. 

The President fell forward. His eyes closed. 
He neither saw, nor heard, nor felt anything that 
was taking place. Kind arms carried him to a' 
private house not far away. 

At twenty minutes past seven o'clock the next 
morning, those who watched beside him gave 
out the mournful news that Abraham Lincoln 
was dead. 

He was fifty-six years old. 

The whole nation wept for him. In the South 
as well as in the North, the people bowed them- 
selves in grief. Heartfelt tributes of sorrow came 
from other lands in all parts of the world. Never, 
before nor since, has there been such universal 

Such is the story of Abraham Lincoln. In the 
history of the world, there is no story more full of 
lessons of perseverance, of patience, of honor, of true 
nobility of purpose. Among the great men of all 
time, there has been no one more truly great than he.